5 ideas for breakout spaces

Airbnb office breakout space


Whether your office is 1,500 square metres or 15,000, breakout spaces are integral to an energized, creative workplace. Giving employees casual areas to collaborate and brainstorm – or even just get away from their desk for an hour or so – is crucial to their productivity and well-being.

Ready to create a breakout space in your office? Here are five ideas from newly-finished offices, from Utah to Barcelona.

Typeform office breakout space

Collaborative cubicles

Barcelona startup Typeform’s new HQ by Lagranja Design is filled with more than 700 plants, as well as plenty of non-traditional work environments like a bar and a cluster of siesta hammocks. But one of the more ingenious details is the addition of sectioned-off brainstorming areas: stand-up tables flanked by human-sized whiteboards that double as privacy partitions. Each “cubicle” has a screen and all the necessary tech to transition those analog ideas into the digital realm.

Multi-level module

A series of environments inspired by traditional English settlements comprise Airbnb’s new London office – areas like The library and The Market Square provide a diverse range of work areas for its employees. “Creating a truly agile workspace with no fixed desks, each of these elements provides a different kind of work environment for the team to inhabit throughout the day depending on time, mood, task, or whim,” says Threefold Architects. The aptly-named Village Green (shown above) is designed to be an informal working hub for workers to sit, lounge and lie on. Plus, it looks like a cool sculpture when not in use.

Ancestry office breakout space

Family rooms

Ancestry’s new headquarters near Salt Lake City, Utah, softens its sprawling size (nearly 20,000 square metres) with cozy clusters of furniture throughout. The leather sofas, rocking chairs, and floor lamps look like they were plucked from an eclectic (albeit well-to-do) home, and that’s the idea. Interior design firm Rapt Studio wanted to give the spaces a family room vibe to encourage workers to relax and casually interact.

Malwarebytes office breakout space

Flexible furniture

Internet security company Malwarebytes was looking to move away from a “cubicle work environment” with its new office in Santa Clara, California. “Their goal was to remove isolation and segmentation in favor of a culturally open and fluid work space and culture,” says architecture firm Blitz. To accommodate this, they added versatile pieces that can come together or separate as needed to do double, or triple duty as individual seats, sofas, desks, tables, and more.

Breakout space at Barclaycard office

Writable walls

Credit card company Barclaycard recently revamped its Northampton, England office with architecture firm APA to create a “CoLab space” where small teams can collaborate and brainstorm. Each group is allocated a semi-enclosed work area – outfitted with stylishly mismatched tables and chairs – delineated by floor-to-ceiling whiteboard partitions that offer ample surfaces for brainstorming (they also double as projector screens) while creating an intimate feel within the larger space.

While breakout spaces will differ wildly from office to office, the goal is always the same: giving employees options. Remembering – and celebrating – the fact that people create and thrive in a range of settings will ensure that your workers stay productive and happy.

See also:
5 science-backed tips for a more productive workplace
5 easy ways to create a better work environment


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