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My new company does not currently have a break room. Seeing that there is an unused room right next to our workspace, I asked whether it was possible to turn it into a break room.

My superior seemed pleased about the idea, but the higher-ups were lukewarm. At first they said that they would not be able to allocate any budget. I then suggested that my colleagues and me pool the money to furnish the room little by little, but that did not seem to sway them.

After a bit of probing I learned that the higher-ups are not convinced about the potential benefits of a break room. They are afraid that their employees might get tempted to spend too much time in it and laze around.

On the suggestion of my supervisor, I am writing a small document in order to explain what we would like to do with the unused room, and what good would come out of it. How can I properly convey to my employers the benefits of having a break room in the workplace?

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    What's your location, are you unionized? – Frank FYC Oct 8 '17 at 7:46
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    Somewhere in the pacific islands. Unions are not really a thing around here. – Dryr Oct 8 '17 at 8:39
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    I fail to understand the downvotes (one of which I have reversed by upvoting) – Mawg says reinstate Monica Oct 8 '17 at 8:55
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    Maybe a compromise- a trial for a few weeks? The management will see whether their fears are founded. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Oct 8 '17 at 8:56
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    @Mawg: That's a good idea, I hadn't thought of that. – Dryr Oct 8 '17 at 9:32
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The best way to convey the benefits of a break room to your employers is to make sure those benefits support the business's goals. Try framing the perks you're hoping for in a way that highlights their benefit to the whole company. Here are a few possible examples:

  • Noise reduction: A break room allows for friendly conversations without interrupting others. It's also a good place to take the occasional unexpected personal call away from the hustle of shared team space.

  • Comraderie: A shared "off work" space might mean people can eat together more easily, and teams that don't work together may bump into each other more often. This builds overall team unity and can encourage impromptu brainstorming that will benefit the company in unexpected ways.

  • Recruitment & Retention: A break area can be a good spot to showcase personality (an "art wall", chalkboard, or photo gallery of employees/family/friends/pets) and inject some whimsy (ping pong tables, anyone?). These spaces can be a great way to coax potential hires & reduce stress/burnout among current employees.

You also want to make sure everyone enjoying the space does so in a respectful manner. Especially since management has expressed some concerns, anyone near the new break room will be viewed with extra scrutiny. Try talking with your superior & colleagues to make sure your expectations are all clear - it doesn't matter how good a letter your write if the next day your boss is slacking off & napping by the new water cooler!

As Mawg mentioned above, providing some additional structure around the plan may be helpful too. Write a policy that includes a time frame for reviewing whether or not the break room is working out. You might also reframe the words "break room": this already appears to have a negative connotation. Try "team space" or something significant to your company/location/culture.

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    This might be missing probably the biggest advantage of a break room, which is that a few minutes of rest can recharge you for a few more hours of work, while a few hours of work while you really need a break are the equivalent of only a few minutes of work. (At least for thinking/creative professions) – Erik Oct 9 '17 at 8:35
  • @Erik That's a good point. I think everyone would understand if it's explained that way. – Dryr Oct 9 '17 at 10:23
  • That's a great way to list the benefits of a break room, I just need to make sure they will understand how it all leads to more productivity. I really like the idea of reframing the words "break room", I'll try to think of something that . – Dryr Oct 9 '17 at 12:20
  • I added on top of all that the fact that a break room allows employees to get a fresh perspective on what they are working on, by letting them lose focus and take a step back for a few minutes. – Dryr Oct 10 '17 at 3:35
  • I renamed "Break room" into "Activity room". It has a better connotation. – Dryr Oct 10 '17 at 3:37

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