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The office break room is, for some employees, the holy grail of having fun, taking time off work, and forgetting about stress and troubles. That’s all good and fun, and it’s an incredibly important place to be when you take into account the need for employees to enjoy a few minutes off here and there between meals and meetings, but the break room can quickly turn into a disaster if employees and employers don’t understand basic etiquette.

First, and maybe most obviously, the easiest way to balance break room and work time and create a sustainable break room environment is by cleaning up after yourself. That may sound really simple for adults, but it’s surprising how many fail to see the importance of simple manners like picking up your own trash and being respectful of community areas for the others around you.

Along with that, it’s important to use the break room as a break room – literally – and find that balance where you aren’t bringing work stress into the break room. If you haven’t gotten the last word on that meeting yet, keep it in the office, and do not take it into the break room. The last thing coworkers want is an employee who can’t let it go and takes it to the break.

Third, do not gossip. This isn’t high school. The break room is the perfect place to catch up on a coworker’s hobby, or learn more about someone’s child’s little league baseball game, but it is not the place to start gossiping about colleagues. As a general rule, those who gossip with you will also gossip about you, so don’t tolerate it, don’t engage in it, and never go negative with break room gossip – for any reason whatsoever.

Fourth, if you emptied it, fill it back up. That goes for all these delicious coffees and other beverages we provide; if you are the last to take a drink from the coffee pot, make sure it is full for the next person, and don’t leave it to them to do it for themselves. This goes along with the idea of keeping the break room clean above, but a little bit of common courtesy can go a long way when it comes to break room etiquette, and in turn, workplace morale.

The break room is a common area of the office, and as such, it’s always going to be a little more unique than offices and meeting rooms. It requires special skill to find that balance between work and play in the break room, and learn how to truly take a break, but it is critical for employee morale to do so. Understand that the break room is meant for breaks, and not work or gossip, and you’ll find employee morale increase exponentially!

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