Since the birth of the modern corporate office, the breakroom has been the heart of the workplace. Aside from a haven for everyone’s favorite time of the day, lunchtime, the breakroom plays an important role in creating and fostering a positive team culture.
As the coronavirus continues to impact workplace dynamics across the globe, companies will adjust the workday significantly in order to account for COVID-related health policies and regulations.
Following the wake of COVID, companies are going to get creative with the way they foster community amongst their employees. Usually, the breakroom serves as a communications space where employers can post about upcoming events, policy changes, or company updates.
In the months following changes in physical workspaces, many of the communications that traditionally happen in the breakroom will become electronic. Companies may opt for weekly or monthly e-newsletters instead.
As a result, breakrooms are going to feel larger. With social distancing in mind, employees will stop eating in groups. For many businesses, this may weaken the social benefits that employees feel when going into an office.
One benefit that will come from COVID is that companies will improve the framework for how employees get in and out of the breakroom.
For companies that have cafeteria-style breakrooms, the way that employees go through the check out line will change. In order to maintain workplace efficiency, perhaps some businesses will adopt contactless payment methods.
Another possible change companies might make post-COVID is the elimination of beloved vending machines. Overall, it would be inefficient for companies to try and keep the machines clean enough to avoid the spread of COVID. This would also reduce clusters of those gathering around to grab a snack.
In the unlikely event that workplaces see spikes in COVID cases which are contact-traced back to break spaces, companies may begin to do away with them altogether. It’s possible that in the winter months, when immune systems are weaker, breakrooms will be replaced by break stations.
Some companies have begun to contemplate setting up microwave or coffee stations throughout the office. Rather than a large communal space for meals or rest times, employees will have access to kitchen equipment but will be expected to spend their break times at their personal workstations.
This would be the most efficient method, as companies already have to reorganize work areas in order to comply with COVID regulations.
Of course, for those working remotely, the breakroom no longer exists at all. Now, employees have the benefit of spending their break time getting in some physical activity at home or taking a real break away from the distractions of work.
All in all, post-COVID breakrooms will look nothing like the social hubs they were before the pandemic. Employers are going to adapt the layouts and functions of these spaces to give a whole new meaning to the breakroom’s place in the social environment of the modern workplace.