State-of-the-art Break Rooms – Part 2 – The Sensible Breakroom

This is Part 1 of a 3-part Series: The Sensible Breakroom.

Break rooms are an essential part of any workplace, allowing employees to take a break and de-stress. But what if you could make them even better? By designing a break room that uses all five senses, as well as the holistic approach to mind, body and environment, you can create a truly unique and multi-sensory environment that boosts productivity and wellbeing in the workplace.
Designing a break room that incorporates all five senses doesn’t have to be difficult.

Here are some tips to get you started:


Create an inviting environment with natural light and colors that stimulate the senses. 

  • Windows & skylights are a plus, but you may be stuck working with what you’ve got.  So, instead of bright fluorescents, have lamps around with soft, ambient lighting. 
  • You can also add wall hangings and decorations to personalize the space.
  • Real plants (succulents are easy to keep alive!), and rotating artwork (especially done by employees) can create a fun creative space.


Incorporate natural scents like lavender, lemon or vanilla to soothe the senses and promote relaxation.  Be careful of using synthetic fragrances, as some are sensitive to those. 

  • Open the window if possible to let in fresh air.  Bringing in an air purifier will help keep things fresh as well. 
  • Try this for getting rid of burnt popcorn smell in microwaves: make a solution of 1 cup of water with 1 tablespoon of either lemon juice or vinegar in a microwave-safe container. Heat for 2-5 minutes, then wipe clean.
  • Consider having an aromatherapy area, with blends used to de-stress, energize, or promote emotional health.  Have a small jar for each blend (labeled clearly).  Apply a drop or two of the oil blends on some cotton balls and till the container with them.  Encourage employees to take the cotton balls back to their desks for quick little pick ups throughout the day.


Make sure the furniture and amenities are comfortable and cozy, so that employees can really relax and recharge.  

  • Provide footstools so employees can relieve tension in legs and low back
  • Get a couple of massage pads that can be placed on the back of chairs
  • Provide tactile activities that help relieve stress: adult coloring, clay or kinetic sand, stress balls, playing cards, etc. 


Create a calming atmosphere with low-level background music or natural sounds like birds chirping.  In addition:

  • Provide headphones that offer noise canceling so employees can get away from sounds and take a moment in silence for meditation and relaxation. 
  • Bring in a small counter or table top water feature to not only increase visual relaxation but audible as well. 
  • Great conversations & laughter is always welcome – have a question or joke of the day posted on the bulletin board that helps people get to know each other and stimulate conversation.  Conversation cards on the tables can also be a fun way to interact with team members and associates. 


Of all the improvements you can make in your breakroom, this is the most important as it will impact your employees for hours to come.  Provide refreshments and snacks that are easy to access and enjoyable to eat. This can range from teas and coffees to healthy snacks and treats.  Making sure the offerings you have are intentional to give your workers the energy they need to get through the day, to handle the stress that comes with their workload, and to have brains ready to be creative and productive. 

  • Good Fats – As noted by the NIH, “The human brain is nearly 60 percent fat. We’ve learned in recent years that fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine your brain’s integrity and ability to perform.”  It is also important for us to avoid oils that were once thought of as “healthy”, but studies are showing they may cause scarring of the arterial wall.  Healthy Nuts, seeds and avocados as snacks are a great way to get this important macronutrient during the work day. 
  • Good Carbs – yes!  We need carbs for energy, but we have to have the right ones at our fingertips.  When our bodies are tanking, we will start to crave the high carb snack that is the most convenient.  The healthiest sources of carbohydrates—unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans—promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a host of important phytonutrients. (Harvard School of Public Health)
  • Good Protein – the building blocks of endurance and strength. Supplying healthy snack power packed with protein will help employees feel nourished and ready to handle the workload ahead of them. If they are easy to grab, all the better.  Think hummus and veggie packs, cheese sticks, jerky, and yogurt.

Why not just let the employee bring in their own lunch or snacks?  Because you care (or you wouldn’t have read this far in the article… 🙂)  But, don’t feel like you have to do the heavy lifting yourself!  Companies like garten have been managing the staff break room for years, and are highly skilled at taking the guesswork out of what to provide as well as staying within budget.

The Sensible Solution

By incorporating all five senses in your break room, you can create a truly unique and multi-sensory environment that helps to promote productivity and wellbeing for your employees. With the right design and a few simple touches, you can make your break room the perfect place to step away from the office and recharge.  Take a moment to look around your breakroom – which of the 5 senses are the most in need of improvement?  What one small addition can you make today?

Next up: what are the non-negotiables in a breakroom atmosphere?