Breakout spaces are an increasingly vital aspect of the modern co-working offer. Used by office tenants as overflow office space, a casual setting for informal work groups and catch ups, and as an area to facilitate networking between users. We wanted to take a look at how modern breakout spaces can respond to the increased demand, as well as adapting to the covid sensitivies around social distancing.

Clean – Wipe clean surfaces at the tea point in the Parkhall breakout space

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, people are more hygiene conscious than ever. Office providers are responding by increasing cleaning cycles and providing hands free anti-bac dispensers in their breakout spaces.
This has also influenced the specification of materials. Frequent-use surfaces now need to be easily cleaned and often use antimicrobial finishes.
As well as being hygienic though, the finishes of a breakout space are more important than ever in the wave of the newest competition – the home office. It’s important that breakout spaces provide a communal, comfortable experience that can compete with the safety, security and comfort of working from home to ensure workers feel motivated and happy to return to the office.

Intimate – calm, yellow light illuminates the cosy phone booths at Mare Street studios

The driving motive behind workers coming back to the office is social interaction. Working from home for too long can be a lonely and isolating experience. It is important therefore that a modern breakout space provides a social atmosphere, through the use of ‘space within a space’. At Parkhall we used plants & vertically varied furniture to shroud meeting booths & create that sense of social intimacy within the larger space. Phone booths are a great tool to give a portal between social & private working.

Airy – the breakout space at The Light Box utilises the double height ceiling to create a light atmosphere

While social distancing rules may have been relaxed, people are more conscious of personal space and maintaining that social distance. Breakout spaces then, while providing a networking and intimate atmosphere, must allow for distance between users. The high ceilings at Parkhall or the Light Box provide airy, ventilated spaces ensuring user comfort.