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Justifying Chill Out Spaces

January 29th, 2008 @ 10:35am (PT) by Guest Author

The following is a guest post, contributed by Keith

So much in today’s world needs to be justified with numbers showing us that there is a quantifiable value for every decision. When a company spends money, more often than not they want to know how spending that money will make them more money. This is the concept of return on investment (ROI). How to spend $1 and make $2 as a result. (OK, finance lesson over with).

But not everything is easily quantifiable, or measurable. How to measure employee satisfaction or my personal favourite “engagement” with verifiable, hard numbers? These are by nature qualitative measures.


Photo credit: SqueakyMarmot on Flickr

With a new generation of employees moving into the workplace, the so-called Millennials (Gen Y), that values a balance between work and their personal life, companies are having to adjust. In areas where younger workers are the norm, or at least make up a significant percentage of the population steps are being taken to introduce an atmosphere targeted at attracting and retaining talent. By providing games tables, comfortable seating or in some cases refreshments to employees as a “perk” of the job, some companies are aiming to make work a more fun and balanced place to be.

But if you’re wanting to get some leather recliners or a foosball table into the office, how do you justify the benefits of this to the powers that be? Where are your numbers? There is precious little in the way of hard facts to “prove” the beneficial nature of these perks. There is, however, mounds of anecdotal evidence to show that happy and relaxed employees are more productive and more creative during the hours that they are performing their duties.

This is one of the intangibles that make up a balanced work culture and lead to a more relaxed and creative workforce. By providing a “chill-out space” something with comfortable seating and (god forbid) maybe a television, your hard-working employees have a place to recharge their batteries mid-day and continue to deliver for the company until late in the afternoon.

Photo credit: tojosan on Flickr

I’m not saying that companies should employ masseuses, or servers to cater to employees while they’re on the job (as alleged by 60 minutes), but provide some benefits that help to enhance the experience of going to work. Why does work need to be dull and boring? Invest some money. If even one employee stays instead of leaving for another company, it will be worth your time. The return on your investment comes in the form of not wasting productive hours training yet another new employee (probably another millennial).

So in an effort to collect some more of those anecdotal stories, and maybe even some hard numbers, tell us about your workplace. Do you have a “chill-out space” to use? Does it help? Is it something you would look for in a prospective employer?

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6 comments

  1. Miss604 says:

    I found that some of our team in Boston used to get their best ideas while playing ping pong. A 10 minute ‘sanity break’ definitely helps get the creative juices going. It also makes a workplace more enjoyable, and for most it helps with your dedication as well if you have a “sweet gig”.

    Sure the company could be scared of ‘slackers’ showing their true colours but they should be just as scared that people will lose focus due to lack of motivation.

  2. Jenny says:

    Our dreary offices were renovated last year and now include such a place. A room with big comfy chairs, coffee and tea and yes even a big tv to watch. It’s nice to have somewhere to sit and have a break and catch up with co-workers midday.

  3. Jackie says:

    We have foosball tables and table hockey…but I’ve rarely seen anyone using them. As well, the gym hardly seems to be used either. However the free healthy snacks (fruit, cereals, etc.) do seem to go over well, especially as there is no place to buy food very close to the office. And of course, the free Cappuccino/Latte machine is very popular!

  4. Miss604 says:

    Yeah that’s the thing about office-provided coffee – trips to Starbucks last at least 15 minutes (20 if someone orders a ‘fancy’ drink). Providing coffee and a nice place to sit for a minute keeps employees in the office and probably gets them back to work faster.

  5. Raul says:

    At my previous workplace we had table tennis and a (free) soft-drinks dispensing machine. At my current workplace we have a capuccino/latte/espresso machine. I think that what we need is a place to take a mid-afternoon nap. I can’t function at 1.30pm.

  6. fotoeins says:

    In Germany (or at least locally), every office was legally obligated to have a window facing to the outside of the building. Since our office building was on top of a 1000-foot hill, our windows looked into the forest; one had to climb the stairs onto the roof to see the Neckar river join the Rhein.

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