Team members might be currently working from home, but when the time comes to welcome them back, building a better, safer, more comfortable breakroom will be more important than ever.
The good news is that organizations have more time to prepare their break- and lunchroom facilities. Moreover, it is possible to get these spaces up to par without splurging on time- and budget-heavy renovations. All it takes is some well-chosen and arranged furniture.
Here are three priorities to focus on when redesigning for back to work, according to Sandra Vyse, Staples Professional’s National Director Sales & Strategy for Furniture, Tech, Print and Promo.
Priority #1: Flexibility
With hybrid work the new default for many organizations, onsite days will likely focus on interaction. “Flexibility is going to be really important when people are coming back into the office for collaboration and connection,” says Vyse.
With smaller meeting rooms out of the question if they can’t accommodate physical distancing mandates, cafeterias and lunchrooms may have to pick up some slack, notes Vyse. “So, think about how that space is going to be utilized and make sure the products in it are going to support that collaboration and sense of community,” she advises.
Versatile tables and chairs that can be easily moved and rearranged allow for maximum flexibility. Look for lightweight, foldable, and collapsible pieces. Always promote physical distancing and room-capacity limits through the number of seats, and through signage and reminders.
Priority #2: Wipeability
When it comes to lunchroom furniture, anything that’s not wipeable needs to go, says Vyse.
Absorbent, porous surfaces like fabric-covered chairs or wooden tables are difficult to disinfect and should be replaced with furniture crafted from plastics like vinyl, polypropylene and/or laminate, all of which are easily disinfected with wipes or spray products.
If your organization has opted to use room dividers or screens, clear acrylic (also known as plexiglass) is the preferred material for the same reason.
Priority #3: Adaptability
Finally, stay agile — this is where furniture solutions shine. “Furniture offers lower cost, flexibility and the ability to do multiple, temporary test-tries,” says Vyse. In other words, if it doesn’t work, you can always change it, unlike renovations that are a more costly, permanent solution. “You don’t want to do a full renovation and then find that your teams aren’t comfortable, or it didn’t actually meet the [public health] protocols,” she says.
The right break or lunchroom furniture can promote collaboration and community, even while keeping everyone a safe 6-feet apart from one another. If social distancing becomes a non-issue later, your lunchroom furniture investment will remain sound. “Furniture can be reused and repurposed in many different scenarios,” notes Vyse.