The Benefits of Having an Office Relaxation Area

December 20, 2018 / by Tommy Twardowski

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Anything you can do to boost employee happiness in the workplace will probably pay off in terms of productivity – and your bottom line. Why? Because happy employees are less likely to look for another job.

A myriad of studies have concluded that retaining employees is far more cost-effective than recruiting and training new ones. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, it costs more than $4,400 on average to fill a non-executive open position. That doesn’t include the loss in productivity incurred and the time it takes before hiring a replacement. According to AppleOne’s 2018 Cost of Turnover Calculator, the total cost of turnover (including having a vacancy and hiring and on-boarding a new employee) for an employee making $50,000 per year is an astounding $41,463.05!

Offering a competitive salary and great benefits definitely contributes to employees happiness. But, even the best compensation package won’t be enough to keep most employees in a work environment that’s unpleasant or overly stressful. Creating a work environment that people enjoy is so important! After all, the average employed individual spends roughly half of his or her total waking hours at work on any given workday. Therefore, it makes good business sense to invest in making the workplace pleasant through your office design. If you don’t have an office relaxation area, perhaps you should consider adding one!

Office Relaxation Areas: An Evolving Office Trend

Employees of consulting firm Bain and Company gravitate to the company’s “light-filled common area with plenty of space to chat over a latte or challenge each other to a quick game of pool,” noted several years ago, and it appears to have remained true. That “amazing break room culture” is one reason the company was named Glassdoor’s employees choice as the Best Place to Work in 2019.

There are also plenty of reasons why Google has been named, multiple times, the best company to work for in America. One reason is an amazing campus full of amenities, including:

  • Gardening spaces
  • On-site gyms
  • Nap pods
  • Easy access to bicycles
  • Massage therapists
  • Outdoor patio space
  • Laundry service

Plenty of top companies invest heavily in "employee happiness" spaces. Under Armour boasts a full-service gym including onsite basketball court. Yelp’s Scottsdale office includes game rooms, a beer station and a relaxation room set up like a spa, with massage chairs and scented candles. Even more companies, including Facebook, HootSuite, and CapitalOne Labs are outfitting their relaxation spaces with nap pods, proclaimed by Decoist magazine as a “workplace trend.

Worried About Too Much Relaxation? Set Limits.

Yelp ensures that employees don’t spend their entire workday in the spa room by requiring employees to schedule their use in 30-minute increments. If you’re concerned that a relaxation room will result in too much employee fun, bonding or napping, you can set limits or open up the space only during certain time periods. Or, you can create a space that is zen-like and peaceful in a more passive way.

7 Easy Ways to Incorporate an Office Relaxation Area into Your Office Design (If You’re Not Google)

You may not have the budget to purchase 1,000 bicycles or create an in-house gardening area for employees, and you don’t have to! A successful office relaxation space is any space that allows employees to take a break from sitting in their office furniture, staring at their computer screen, talking on the phone or shuffling paperwork. All you really need is a dedicated space that’s inviting and peaceful.

Seven very do-able ideas to create a company relaxation area include:

  1. Filling a space with inviting furniture (plush, oversized chairs; sofas; hammocks; floor pillows; etc.) to encourage employees to want take a break.
  2. Providing access to exercise balls, yoga mats, and punching bags. Many organizations, including Harvard Medical School, confirm that even light exercise reduces stress.
  3. Adding soothing music and soft lighting to create an ambiance conducive to relaxation.
  4. Incorporating a large aquarium or even an indoor koi pond or waterfall feature. A study published in ScienceDaily concluded that “the sound of nature helps us relax.”
  5. Incorporating plenty of plants, because the sight of nature also helps us relax.
  6. Using aromatherapy is an inexpensive way to calm the nerves. One study notes that bergamot oil is especially effective in improving mood.
  7. Offering eye masks and earplugs to make it easier for employees to shut out the outside world and even take a cat nap. 

A relaxation room that appeals to employees of the company across the hall may not appeal to your employees. And vice versa. The only way you’ll really know what features will make your employees happy is to ask them. Create a list of ideas you’re considering, and that you can afford, and send out an anonymous survey to your employees asking them to rank their favorites in order.

You can offer one large communal relaxation area or smaller self-contained “pods.” There are no rules and they don't need require expensive office redesigns. That’s why you shouldn’t assume you have to be a corporate giant to create a workplace relaxation space. So, if you’re considering it, go for it! Your employees will love a space for relaxation, and you’ll be making an investment in your company’s future. If you need other ideas or would like to discuss installation of your new relaxation areas contact Houston Installation Services. We've been helping businesses with office design for more than 35 years!

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Originally published September 2017. Revised December 2018.

Topics: Office Design, Facility Managers, Managers

About The Author

Tommy Twardowski

Tommy Twardowski

Tommy began his career in the office furniture installation business in 1978 and started his full-time career in 1981 with Houston Installation Services. Starting as a furniture installer, he developed a passion for the process of installation and learned to install all major manufacturers’ lines.