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Why Are Office Breakout Areas Important?

Keep Your Workforce Happy, Recharged & Fresh

Office breakout areas, or break rooms, are an increasingly integral part of the modern office. They allow employees to relax, socialise and disengage from work, leaving them refreshed and motivated - and more productive in the long run.

What is an Office Breakout Area?

A breakout area, break room or chillout room is a space where employees can go to rest, recharge, grab a favourite book and a sandwich, and relax for an hour. In the modern office, productivity is key. And productivity has been linked to employee happiness, satisfaction and positivity.

Typical office breakout rooms.

It's also somewhere you can hold more informal meetings, either with employees or with visitors. Some meetings work better as a casual get-together in comfortable surroundings, and a break room is an ideal place for this to happen.

What Makes a Great Breakout Room?

The best breakout rooms are where employees find sanctuary from sedentary, hectic desk jobs - if only for a short while. They're filled with comfortable lounge-style seating or relaxed communal dining areas, so work colleagues can share mealtimes, tall stories, discuss the day's events and enjoy each others' company.

A group of office workers relaxing at work.

A coffee table or two with low seats reinforces the air of relaxation. You could add a TV to the wall too, so staff can catch up on the news, or perhaps follow any important sporting events.

Other great ideas that we've seen include book libraries, ornamental fish tanks and creative areas (like whiteboards for comedy sketching). You can also have a 'quiet time' in your breakout room - set aside one 30-minute period per day to dim the lights, and allow those who need it to get some quality, meditative recharge time.

It's important that your employees know that this is where they can fuel up, so some canteen facilites are often welcomed by workers. Fridges for packed lunches, water coolers, perhaps even a vending machine or two for snacks will ensure it's the place to be at lunchtimes. A catering delivery or in-house hot food counter, depending on the size of your company, can really make your employees feel looked-after. And perhaps a special drinks fridge stocked with beers and wine - but only for those Friday afternoon decompression sessions.

An office canteen.

Games in the Break Room

Some of the more luxurious breakout rooms also feature games. Games are great for workplaces for a number of reasons, not least social development among team members, sharpening mental alertness and improving health by promoting movement. You can read more about how games help workforces in our infographic here.

Employees playing games in the office.

There are a number of different games that can be installed in a break room, depending on the space you have, acceptable noise levels and of course the preferences of your team.

We supply all kinds of games tables for office breakout rooms. Read on to see some of the most popular.

Pool Table

The pool table is a great option for a spacious breakout room. Pool is a highly social game, so your staff members can socialise in their time off, building strong team relationships. You could organise an office tournament with prizes for the winners, or encourage games of doubles.

A pool table in an office breakout area.

Ambient noise from a pool table is relatively low, and restricted only to the sound of balls clicking, plus perhaps the sound of a ball moving through the internal ball return chute (if fitted). So it's not a particularly disruptive installation for everyone else.

Most pool tables can also be covered with special tops, making them ideal for storage when not in use. Some pool table tops are marked with table tennis pitches, giving you another game to play, whilst other tables are designed as convertible pool/dining tables. The extra leg room, spacious top area and perfect height makes these pool/diners perfect for office boardrooms and desks, too. And any pool table with a fitted cloth, which is pretty much any slate bed table, can be installed with a branded pool cloth displaying your company logo.

Pool tables are large objects, and do require additional space around them for cueing. This might make them impractical for smaller offices, but if you have the space, you might find a pool table is perfect. You can read more about how to measure up your space for a pool table in our guide.

Arcade Machine

Arcade machines, particularly multiplay arcade machines that are preloaded with a variety of different games, can be great in the office too. They don't take up much space, and in most cases are at least two-player, so your staff can socialise and game together.

An arcade machine installed in an office break room.

With adjustable volume controls, the arcade can be quietened right down or even made completely silent, so as not to disturb other employees.

Most arcades are of the conventional upright arcade machine shape, but there are others. There's the old-style cocktail arcade machine of the 1980s, where players sit opposite each other and go head-to-head. And there are even coffee table arcades, which could be ideal for the more languid office break room. Whichever fits your break room best, we know that these machines can be great fun for your team.

Foosball Table

Football or foosball tables bring all the fun of miniature soccer into your office. A full-size table is usually just under five feet long, and you'll need space for a player on either side. So it's a very compact games table, but it really delivers on fun!

A football table in an office breakout area.

Players will be controlling their team of 11 players, trying to score in the opponent's goal. It can be quite a high-speed, fast-moving game, which can mean a little noise from the ball, and possibly some audible excitement from the players too. Most football tables are large enough to accept two players on either side, making games of doubles a real possibility.

If space is an issue, there are folding football tables, which can quickly collapse and be stored away somewhere tidy in seconds if the break room suddenly needs to be used for meetings. Custom branding on football tables is popular in offices, meaning that you can decorate your communal table with your company logo or colours. In compact, social offices, a football table can be hard to beat.

Air Hockey

A game of air hockey can be just the thing your staff need to decompress. Fast, frantic and immense fun, air hockey tables are a staple of amusement arcades the world over.

An air hockey table in an office breakout area.

This fun gameplay and hectic, high-speed puck action makes it ideal for team play. Larger, commercial-grade tables with metal playfields are the type we would recommend for office or communal use, and these generally are made in 6ft or 7ft sizes. They're large enough for doubles, and give your team a great workout. Short, intense bursts of physical activity help with sedentary, desk-based jobs, getting the blood flowing and the breath moving. They can also be situated up against a wall on one side, making them easier to squeeze in than some other tables.

Air hockey tables aren't perfect for everywhere, though. They're probably the loudest games tables on this list, with the trademark 'ping' of the puck on metal rails making plenty of sound. Some also have game music and commentary, although this is usually volume-adjustable. But if noise isn't a problem, an air hockey table can make a great break room addition.

Table Tennis

A table tennis table can be a great addition to an office. This fun, fast game needs no introduction, and improves fitness, hand-eye coordination and mental alertness.

A table tennis table in an office breakout area.

With many outdoor table tennis models available, offices with outside space can provide these for employees to play in the sun, introducing some much-needed vitamin D for people who spend a lot of time indoors. If not, plenty of indoor tennis tables are available, most with a variety of folding and storage solutions that make them quick and easy to move out of the way when not in use. There are even table tennis tops, that can be laid over an existing table or desk to quickly create a table tennis playfield.

Table tennis isn't the quietest game to play, as the bats and balls do make some noise - it's where 'ping-pong' came from, after all. But it isn't disruptively loud, so could be suitable for a break room with a closed door. And with scope for games of doubles, tournaments and more, it's a fantastic way to keep your team amused.

Pinball

Pinball machines are the wildcard entry into this list. They're loud, they're covered in flashing lights and visual displays, and only one person can play at a time. So why would they fit in a break room?

For some people, pinballs are the ultimate escapism. Mastering a particular game and beating high scores is a real labour of love, and some businesses may find that a pinball really suits their employees. With many themes and franchises used as the basis for pinballs, you can also often find a pinball to match a particular topic - a Stern Led Zeppelin for a record company, perhaps, or a Star Wars pinball for a film studio or agency.

As far as break rooms go, pinballs are a definite niche product and won't be suitable for most - but for the right office, the right employees and the right space, a pinball could be a gamechanger for staff satisfaction.

Shuffleboard

Shuffleboard is another leftfield games room product. It's based around a large, long shuffleboard table, which immediately makes it unsuitable for many offices. But if you have the space, this highly social game of skill, dexterity and patience can be absolutely addictive.

A shuffleboard table in an office breakout area.

Absolute concentration and keen hand-eye coordination is needed with every shot. This makes shuffleboard ideal for getting employees' minds off their work and giving them a good mental rest.

Form teams from your departments and hold tournaments, each trying to score the perfect shot. Shuffleboard is relatively quiet to play, with only the cheering of teammates breaking the silence. If you have room for a 15ft or more table, shuffleboard could be the discerning choice for your hard-working staff.

In Conclusion

Whatever you decide to do with your office breakout room, remember who it's for. It could be worth discussing with line managers or HR reps, to identify what might be popular and ensure that the space is accessible and enjoyable for everyone.

Ready to look at some tables?

If you think a games table is the right addition to your breakout area, let us help you to choose the right one. We've plenty of experience helping companies kit out their breakout rooms, and we'd be happy to help - just get in touch with us for expert advice.

This article was written by Liberty Games staff member
Joe O'Mara
Sales Manager at Liberty Games. Pool table specialist & pinball wiz. Film & cinema nerd, with a mental database of every episode of The Simpsons ever made.
Liberty Games

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