The primary function of a break room is to give your practice staff a break. A break from work, from the décor and lighting of the practice rooms, from the furniture and equipment, and from patients. Entering a break room should be like entering a familiar, comfortable space that’s more like home than work.
It follows that if the break room in a veterinary, medical or dental practice has the same furniture as the work spaces, if it’s the same colour and has the same fixtures, then it’s not fulfilling its function.
Here are some tips to create a perfect break room as part of your practice design, and the subtle ways in which you can differentiate it from the clinical space.
Practice break rooms need to have that homey, comforting feel. Comfy couches and armchairs should be available, as well as a communal table with chairs for that home kitchen nook feel. Add a message board and perhaps even a few games or puzzles for mental relaxation.
If the practice fitout consists of modern surface finishes in clinical areas, like HI-MACS, composite or melamine, using natural timber in the break room will help differentiate it from the work spaces.
There also needs to be a fridge, a sink, a microwave and tea and coffee-making facilities. All this can be built into home-style wooden cabinets that don’t have the same look as the storage spaces in the clinic.
Remember, entering into the break room should be a visual as well as a mental break from practice work.
It’s sometimes necessary for staff to clean up, especially if there has been an accident or emergency in the clinic.
A dedicated staff shower and toilet area off the break room means your staff can relax and clean up without having to go home.
Because the clinical spaces tend to be in the centre of the building, make the most of natural light in the break room. If there’s a window, make it the focal point.
If there’s a solid door or wall, consider opening out the room by replacing it with glass panel doors. The next best thing to having a window is a skylight, which brings a soft, diffuse light into the room.
Remember that although strong, practical lighting is needed for illuminating clinical procedures in a practice fitout, there’s no need for the break room to be starkly lit. Use reflected light sources and lamps to bring the light intensity down and give tired eyes a rest.
The ultimate in a break room is having access to seating outside on a patio. Not only is this a great way to get out of the building and relax, but it can be the focal point of any staff celebrations too.
These tips for the perfect practice break room aim to produce happier, more productive staff. If you would like to know more about the possibilities of practice design, take a look at our recent fitouts or contact us to discuss your project.