Office breakout spaces – a matter of collaboration

Breakout spaces are an essential component of office design. All work and no play makes the office a dull space after all.

Unsurprisingly, a breakout space was long thought of as a room where staff can take a break, but companies have been pushing the boundaries of this auspicious little space. Today, breakout spaces pride themselves in their ability to foster creativity and collaboration while offering a space away from the screen. Those cleverly designed, fully integrated little hubs can be as versatile as necessary.

breakout spaces at Cisco San Francisco
Cisco, San Francisco by O+A, photographer Bruno Damonte. 

Relaxed shared workspaces or impromptu meeting points, dedicated breakout spaces can also double as scenes for catered lunches, thus allowing companies to save on venue hire.

breakout space inside Google Dublin's office
Google Dublin, photo by Peter Wurmli © Camenzind Evolution, by Camenzind Evolution in association with Henry J. Lyons Architects

Collaboration lies at the heart of breakout areas. Google, famous for its fresh and forward-thinking achievements in the corporate workplace, holds free lunches at a set time, thus creating long queues at lunchtime. What would be the point in that? To encourage mingling, of course.

informal waiting area at One Workplace
One Workplace, Santa Clara, California, by Blitz

People will chat while they’re waiting. Chats become ideas, and ideas become projects.

Dan Cobley, Google UK's Managing Director
Elevated breakout space at Ogilvy Mather Jakarta's office
Ogilvy & Mather, Jakarta, by M Moser Associates

A breakout space does not have to be a room with four walls; quite the contrary, it should be a shared oasis, open to everyone. Integrating breakout spaces in your office will significantly reduce the demand for traditional meeting rooms and consequently, delays in the decision-making process that are due to unavailable or booked up meeting rooms.

As pictured below, a simple wooden screen and transition in flooring are enough to create a separate space.

breakout area set apart by a timber divider
Y&R Group, Sydney, by The Bold Collective

A flexible, multi-use breakout area will help companies combat rising space costs and boost staff productivity. As such, the modern workplace would be incomplete without one.

Colourful breakout area at Motorola Chicago
Motorola Mobility, Chicago, by Gensler