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Human beings were not designed to work non-stop in a flurry of phone calls, meeting and e-mails, under the constant glare of fluorescent lights. To restore a bit of mental and physical energy sapped by the daily grind, many employers set up quiet rooms at work for employees to escape into a brief, restorative oasis of peace and solitude.
Quiet rooms are intended to fulfill employees’ physical, spiritual and religious needs. A multipurpose space, the room should be used for naps, relief from stress and over-stimulation, meditation, yoga, prayer, reading quietly and group study of religious texts.
As the saying goes, “As within, so without.” To promote inner peace and quietude, the layout of a workplace quiet room should be open and uncluttered, so that feelings of spacious freedom will be replicated in the mind. Furniture should be minimal and removable, such as meditation cushions and small, low tables. Although some employees might require chairs and high tables – for Bible study, perhaps – these items should be immediately removed when not in use. Room dividers should also be available for Muslim employees who require separation for men and women during prayer.
Certain details should be taken into consideration when creating a quiet room at work. The room should be in a central location that is accessible to all employees, but it should be either soundproofed to eliminate distractions, or far enough away from the noise of the main work area. The room should be dimly lighted, without bright, fluorescent lights, and should be devoid of any bold art, religious memorabilia and bright colors. The room should feel soft, relaxing and neutral. If possible, the room should contain or be near a bathroom for employees whose religion requires them to wash before prayer.
Set rules for your workplace quiet room, and make sure employees understand the rules. Although the guidelines will be tailor-made to fit individual work environments, they should include the following: All users of the quiet room should be quiet; if you must speak, let it not be above a whisper, unless co-workers are participating in a planned group discussion. Visitors should do nothing to distract one another – that means no eating, cell phones, head phones or computers. The room can be used for naps, meditation, prayer and yoga, but it should not be used as an excuse to avoid or rush through work. Religious tolerance and respect must be practiced at all times, as people from different creeds and belief systems will be sharing the space.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.