The Power of Pause Areas

The Power of Pause Areas

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Gone are the days of the cramped little kitchenette hidden away in the back of an office space. These days pause areas are about much more than just making a quick cup of tea or warming up your lunch.

The pause area is now a space than can (and should) be used to further embody the culture of a company.

It’s a space for employees to ‘break away’ from their desks to eat their lunch, have some quiet private time or host small meetings that don’t require a formal meeting area.

It’s a proven fact that most great ideas or solutions are ‘stumbled across’ whilst having a relaxed discussion with a cup of coffee.

Thus, the long overlooked notion of ‘Internal Networking’, is essentially what you are aiming to promote and encourage.

So, what are a few ‘must haves’ for an effective pause area space?

  1. These spaces should have a very different look and feel to the general office accommodation. You want your staff to step out of their traditional ‘office environment’ and spend some time being refreshed in a completely new space.
  2. You need to provide basic kitchen facilities such as a fridge, microwave, sink and cupboard space. Most importantly, decent coffee and vending machines prove to your staff how much you value them. No one like being subjected to a bad cup of coffee!
  3. A TV is always a winner. It helps to keep staff up to date on current internal and external news and can also be used as a great ‘teambuilder’ to enjoy a rugby game and a few beers on a Friday afternoon.
  4. A variety of seating options helps to cater for and encourage a variety of different activities. Include a mix of soft seating (couches and armchairs) for a more relaxed feel as well as more functional furniture (such as funky restaurant-style chairs and tables) for eating at or hosting meetings. Square tables work best as these can then be pushed together to accommodate larger gatherings.
  5. Flexibility is key, particularly in the use of furniture. This enables the space to be changed according to a variety of different needs.
  6. Staff Notice/Writing Board can be used to encourage direct communication between staff and allow for more informal communication within the office.
  7. Depending on the nature of work your staff does, you can also consider including some fun aspects such as an X-Box, Foosball Machine or Pool Table. These are great brainstorming tools and allow staff to unwind and engage in some healthy competition.

Most importantly, you need to remember that the pause area space belongs to your staff. Thus, it needs to be focused on meeting their needs. Get them involved in the design, ask for suggestions and make sure you let them enjoy the space!

Kerry Tangney
Kerry Tangney is a qualified interior designer with over eight years’ experience designing corporate office spaces. She has worked for numerous private space planning and design firms and currently heads up the design department within the Workspace Planning division of one of South Africa’s major banks. Part of her mandate is to remain at the forefront of current and future trends in workplace design and she has a keen interest in the emotional effects of spaces.