Redesigned break rooms boost staff efficiency, retention

Looking to optimize staff productivity and retention? A spruced up staff lounge may be the answer, according to Healthcare Design Magazine.

New design features often mean adding amentities to break rooms more akin to business-class lounges and more efficient nurses' stations.

"Reducing stress and fatigue, and providing ergonomically supportive spaces, are now top-level goals," Carolyn BaRoss, design principal and firmwide healthcare interior design director for Perkins+Will, told Healthcare Design. "It's in healthcare organizations' best interest to have happy and healthy staff who enjoy their workplace and are as effective as possible in it."

Traditionally, staff space design has been an incidental part of the design process, but today it is often a topic of discussion during the planning stages. The Facility Guidelines Institute's Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospital and Outpatient Facilities recommend lounges or break areas be at least 100 square feet, although BaRoss said the goal is not more square footage but more about organization and strategic location within the hospital.

Although it's important for staff to have access to break rooms via work areas, it can be a challenge finding space in proximity to patients, Bob Schilling, senior principal at Cincinnati-based Champlin Architecture, told Healthcare Design. It's also vital to make sure break areas are separate enough from patient care and treatment areas that staff can use them for respite, as intended.

This can benefit patients and their families, too; Jennifer Aliber, a principal at Boston-based Shepley Bulfinch, recommends putting break rooms at the end of units, as it may be bad for patient families' morale to see staff relaxing instead of working. However, if break areas are too far from working areas, it will be difficult for staff to access them during a 30-minute lunch. 

To learn more:
- read the article
- download the guidelines