Tag Archives: productivity

10 Essentials of the Most Successful Companies’ Break Rooms

10 Essentials of the Most Successful Companies’ Break Rooms

Break rooms are an often overlooked feature of the workplace that can actually be counterproductive if used improperly. Break rooms are so named because they’re intended to encourage a mental and physical break from the daily races of the office, but there are many other ways you can make your break room an effective establishment in your workplace. You don’t need to go crazy with upgrades and fixtures, but if you invest in your break room with some major essentials, you’ll see a difference in your employees’ productivity and satisfaction almost immediately. Take these features of successful company break rooms as inspiration.

1. Free coffee. Free coffee is a staple in most offices for a reason. Make sure you have some kind of coffee available in your break room, with all the extras–sugar, cream, cups, and stirrers, at least. Coffee works as a positive incentive for your workers, functioning as an added perk for the job (pun intended). But keeping a flow of coffee is also beneficial for your company’s long-term productivity. Caffeine increases attention spans, improves focus, and boosts mental energy so your workers can work more and feel rewarded while doing so. Plus, coffee is relatively inexpensive, so it’s a small investment for a potentially large return.

2. Lunch tables. No break room is complete without an area for your employees to actually take a break. Lunch tables are important for the obvious reasons: they give people space to sit down and eat a meal during their lunch breaks. But they also serve a more important purpose–they create a natural opportunity for your workers to engage with one another. Those conversations can help to solve existing problems facing those workers, or promote interpersonal connections and a greater sense of teamwork.

3. Differentiation. Don’t make your break room a simple extension of the rest of your office. Do something to make it stand out. For example, you could change the color of the walls or the layout of the room to make the break room feel like it’s a part of a different building. Making this distinction is important because it will allow your workers to fully disconnect from their workspace and decompress. The change in environment will give them a chance to relax and embrace the change in scenery. When they return to work, they’ll start fresh, and productivity will substantially increase.

4. Games. Games are important in the break room for two reasons. First, they give people a chance to unwind and engage in an activity that doesn’t stress them out. It helps relieve stress and promotes greater productivity when the employees go back to work. Second, if you offer a multiplayer game like foosball or billiards, it promotes bonding amongst your workers and leads to a stronger team mentality.

5. Decoration. The break room should be a lively, stimulating place. Don’t keep white walls with a single poster describing workers’ legal rights. Instead, paint the break room a unique color or feature an idiosyncratic pattern. You can also decorate your tables and walls with various items, from motivational posters to community-based bulletin boards. Whatever you do, it’s important to make the break room an interesting place. Otherwise, it will feel like a part of the office, and your workers won’t feel relaxed. Try not to overthink it either–just create an interesting environment that stands out from the rest of the office.

6. Healthy food options. If you want to go the extra mile, include some healthy food options for your workers. Like with the free coffee, your workers will consider it an extra perk of the job, but there are other benefits to offering healthy food in the break room. A healthy snack can curb workers’ hunger without a sharp spike in insulin, which can lead to a crash later. This way, workers can settle their hunger and improve their productivity without resulting in a lethargic mid-afternoon droop. Include options like nuts, whole grains, yogurt, and fresh vegetables if you can.

7. Comfortable seating. Stiff wooden chairs won’t cut it for a successful break room. Comfortable furniture might cost a bit more, but it will also help your workers feel more relaxed and respected. Since your break room is more than just a place to eat lunch, you could even include a couch or two to accommodate workers just looking to relax. Upgrading your furniture may seem like a trivial improvement, but the long-term benefits are significant.

8. Televisions. Televisions are expensive, and for that reason, they aren’t for every business. But if you can afford to put a television or two in your break room, go for it. Keep them at a low volume and restrict the number of channels available to cut down on their potential as a distraction, but televisions can be extremely valuable in entertaining and informing your employees. A steady stream of relevant information, such as national news, helps your workers feel more involved and get more informed about the happenings of the world outside your office. If you can’t have televisions, newspapers may be a suitable alternative.

9. Celebrations. Break rooms should be host to regular celebrations throughout your company, depending on how and when you choose to honor your employees. For example, you could celebrate individual employees’ birthdays in the break room, or save it for recognizing departmental achievements. No matter what types of celebrations you include, make your break room a place people associate with positive experiences. It will add to the relaxing, separated atmosphere of the room and improve the break time your employees have on a regular basis.

10. Requested features. Finally, truly great break rooms have features that have been requested by your employees themselves. There’s no better way to find out what they value than to simply ask them. In your break room, put a comment box that allows employees to submit ideas they have about how to make the break room a better place. Then, incorporate the most valuable suggestions. It will show that you care about their opinions and it will make them happy when you give them what they want (even if it’s something small). If you feel adventurous, you could apply this concept to your entire company.

You don’t have to have the most advanced break room in the world in order to boost productivity and keep your employees happy. However, if you make the effort to create a place where your workers can truly relax and refresh themselves, they’ll reward you with better work and greater satisfaction.

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Maximizing Coffee’s Health Benefits

The Art (and Science) of Maximizing Coffee’s Health Benefits

  | SEPTEMBER 1ST, 2015 

 

COFFEE ME UP! HEALTH BENEFITS 

Healthy coffee 2

The health effects of drinking coffee have long been a source of controversy. The controversy has centered on its content of caffeine, a stimulant that can cause problems for some people.

However, as mentioned above, a consensus is emerging that coffee has some really great benefits:

  • Coffee might help to prevent the sort of cognitive decline usually associated with diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Researchers discovered that participants who drank three to five cups of coffee per day had about a 65% decreased chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia later on in life.
  • Coffee can help people to lose weight, as caffeine is one of the few natural substances with proven fat burning capabilities. Caffeine can boost the metabolic rate by 3-11%, and increase the burning of fat by as much as 29% in lean people and 10% in those who are obese.
  • According to a Japanese study, men consuming one to two cups of coffee daily reduced their risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease by as much as 38%.
  • Drinking two cups of coffee a day has been associated with a 40% lower risk of developing liver cancer.
  • Coffee consumption is linked with a reduced incidence of some types of cancers, including liver and colorectal cancer.
  • Drinking coffee has been found to ease pain in the neck, shoulders, forearms, and wrists experienced by those who work in an office.
  • Two cups of coffee can cut post-workout muscle pain by up to 48%.
  • Coffee might help to prevent depression. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why this is so, but they believe that it’s because caffeine activates neurotransmitters in the brain which are responsible for controlling mood. What’s clear is that coffee consumption has been associated with a 50 percent reduction in suicide risk among both men and women.
  • Given that coffee drinkers are less likely to get many diseases outlined above, it’s not surprising that coffee drinkers tend to live longer overall.

Coffee’s main health giving qualities arise from its antioxidant activity. Antioxidants help us to fight inflammation, an underlying cause of many chronic conditions.

In fact, studies show that most Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than they do from both fruits and vegetables combined (though perhaps this serves best to demonstrate how sad the SAD diet is, rather than coffee’s superstar antioxidant status).

Note that the health benefits apply to instant coffee as well as the good quality stuff.

THE BEST TIME TO GET YOUR JAVA ON (PS. IT’S NOT EARLY MORNING)

Woman drinking coffee happy thumbs up

If we dive into coffee as soon as our eyelids open, it might not give us the boost in energy we are seeking.

This is because, biologically speaking, our bodies are least in need of coffee in the morning.

As humans we are affected by the 24-hour hormonal cycle called the circadian clock, which controls the release of a hormone called cortisol. This is the hormone which makes us feel alert and awake, and is at peak production in our bodies between 8-9am.

According to ASAP Science, drinking coffee during a peak cortisol period has two unwanted effects for us.

  • Caffeine interferes with the body’s own production of cortisol, which means that the body ends up producing less of it.
  • A person’s tolerance is caffeine is strengthened, which means they’re going to seek it out more and more, but with diminishing ‘return on investment’.

For most people, cortisol levels actually peak at three times during the day: between 8-9 am, 12-1 pm and 5:30-6:30 pm. If someone wants to get the most bang for their buck in terms of caffeine intake, it’s during the slumps of cortisol levels.

The best time to drink coffee, therefore, is between 10-11.30am, and 2-5pm, when your cortisol levels naturally dip. Your body will most need a caffeine hit during these times.

Admittedly, abstaining from coffee until 10am might seem a bit… unnatural.

But think of it like this: the only reason we crave it immediately upon waking is because we’ve effectively trained our bodies to expect a jolt of caffeine first thing in the morning (think Pavlov’s dog). So just quit being a well trained dog and think optimization!

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The Ultimate Office Break Room Cleanliness Guide

Company Kitchen knows breakrooms. Each year, we transform hundreds of break rooms into interactive markets offering fresh, healthy food. We see how people interact with the food and each other. Last year, we offered Nine Tips for Great Break Room Etiquette. Since being published on our blog, that article has been read thousands of times and has amassed hundreds of shares.

So, we decided to publish our Ultimate Office Break Room Cleanliness Guide. Whether your office has five employees or 500, these rules will help keep your office kitchen and breakroom clean, organized, and germ-free.Break room cleanliness guide

  1. Keep an organized fridge. If you know where everything is, food is less likely to get “lost.” Lunches and leftovers should not stay in the fridge more than two days. Prepared, packaged food shouldn’t stay more than a week. Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and salad dressings will probably get used before they expire, but should not be left open more than two months.Using clear boxes or baskets with handles, like those shown below, can help you group like-items together. Plus, employees can put their food in a box rather than in a large plastic bag.
  1. Properly label food and containers. Label each container for condiments, dressings, sauces, etc. Have blank stickers so employees can put their names on their items, as well as pre-printed stickers with each day of the week on them. After a day or two, you will know it’s time to throw out the leftovers.
  2. Avoid sponges – Use brushes or disposable towels. Sponges are not allowed in restaurants for a reason – they are prime breeding ground for bacteria. The damp, dark environment begs for unhealthy spores to multiply. If you do have a sponge, make sure to wring it dry after each use and have a holder for it to sit in. Do not let it sit on the bottom of the sink!
  3. Have an ice scoop (and use it)! Do you really want everyone’s hands touching the ice you’ll be putting in your mouth?
  4. Prepare an emergency kit. While you should have a first-aid kit for cuts and scratches on hand, think of the emergency kit as a first-aid kit for cleanliness. Include a mop, absorbent towels, wet-floor signs, anti-bacterial or disinfectant counter top cleaner, plunger, and gloves. (It may be more like an emergency closet)
  5. Always have dish soap, hand soap available and disinfectant counter cleaner on hand. Dishes need to be cleaned, hands need to be washed, and counters need to be sanitized. All these products are readily available and do not cost much, but can save your office from getting sick.
  6. Place a box of baking soda in the fridge. DSC_6631
    You can’t control what your coworkers bring for lunch, but you can prevent smelly foods from lingering in there.
  7. Clean coffee pot, fridge, sink and microwave regularly. Especially the handles! These items are touched many times per day be nearly everyone in the office. Regularly cleaning the coffee pot with bleach or Lime Away will prevent it from staining or accumulating lime deposits. The refrigerator and microwave handles and sink faucet should be wiped down daily. Pay close attention to the back – it’s not always visible, but a lot of crud accumulates back there. Finally, when cleaning the inside of the microwave, put a cup of water in there and microwave it for several minutes. The steam will loosen up any spills and splatters and make it easy to wipe off.
  8. Keep trash can dry. If there is a hole in the trash can liner, unknown liquids will drip out. At first, you will not notice it, but after a few days, bacteria can grow and it will stink up the break room. Trash cans are never fun to clean, so prevent them from getting wet in the first place.
  9. Do not leave communal food out for more than 4 hours. This is more about food safety than cleanliness, but it will help your break room look neater. After those birthday pot lucks or holiday parties, so not leave food sitting on the counter all day. Prepared food needs to be refrigerated under 40 degrees or be kept over 140 degrees. Anything in between is optimal conditions for bacteria to thrive. If food has been out more than four hours, throw it away.

Hopefully these tips help you keep your kitchen clean and your employees safe and healthy. Please feel free to leave comments below and let us know what rules you have to keep an orderly break room.

Breakroom Office Etiquette

Office breakrooms are the perfect place to relax, reboot, and refresh throughout the work day. Stick with these guidelines from Gentwenty to enjoy every blissful moment of your hard-earned break:

The laws of office break room etiquette

Office Break RoomImage Credit: Jim Moore

Welcome to the real world! Maybe you have just landed your first job in the workforce (congrats!) or maybe you have been a member of the club for a while now. We imagine that you work hard and cannot wait to get your hands on that delicious lunch hour or that could-not-have-come-at-a-better-time fifteen minute break. Are you new to the office and have no idea where to put your food in the fridge? Maybe you stirred things up a bit by heating up some tuna and smelling up the entire office. Surely that was not you gossiping in the break room and getting busted at the same time. What flies in the break room and what is a no-go? We are sharing some rules for probably one of the least talked about aspects of office life: the break room.

Believe it or not, you need break room etiquette whether the rules are spoken or unspoken. Break room etiquette helps ensure that we have smooth interactions with our office mates. It increases respect around the office and can help keep overall harmony. It also helps to make sure you have a stress-free break, much needed of course.

Here are some simple, common sense and easy to follow commandments to follow when you are in the office break room.

Thou shall not be messy. Please, oh please, clean up after yourself. There are no office maids sister; you are an adult. Do not leave your trash everywhere. Do not leave your dishes to sit in the days until the next quarterly meeting. Do your part.

Thou shall not be lazy. Ever been frustrated because the last person to use the water forgot to change the cooler? We all have. If you are the last to use something, replace it.

Thou shall not gossip. Nothing nice to say? Keep it away from the break room. Gossiping is just plain mean. You never know who is behind you or who may overhear you. The workplace is not the place to vent about how lazy and miserable you think your boss is; save that for cocktails with your best friends.

Thou shall not make smelly foods. Any seafood is pretty much a winner for this category. No one wants to smell fish while they are trying to work. The biggest smelly food crime of the office? Probably burnt popcorn. We know it can be hard folks, just stand by the microwave and watch it.

Thou shall not steal. Do not, under any circumstances, take something that belongs to someone else without asking them. This includes everything from food to dishes. You would not want someone to eat your fabulous homemade cookies, would you?

Thou shall mind thy manners. If you can help yourself, try not to be nuisance in the break room. It is a time for people to relax and get their minds off of work. Do not chat on your phone loudly, chew loudly, or just do anything loud in general. Oh, and for heaven’s sake, do not bug others about work-related projects during the break. Be respectful, mate.

Thou shall enjoy thy break. You have earned it. Take the time to relax and clear your mind. Ready, break!