This is why we built Breakroom


How we started

When James, Tom and I started Breakroom, we wanted to solve the biggest problem we could find. And to figure out if there was a business opportunity in solving it.

If the problem was significant enough, the opportunity would be too.

The problem we cared about was income inequality.

To solve it, we wanted to figure out how we could make hourly work better, for everyone.

We had to fight the impulse to come up with ideas and focus instead on learning about the problem first.

It felt reassuringly uncomfortable.

We did what you should always do before building a product: we went to talk to people.

The lightbulb moment

We roamed around shopping centres talking to shop and cafe staff who’d give us a bit of time between serving customers. We interviewed friends about their experiences of work. We recruited people to come and do proper user research interviews.

We wanted to understand everything that people loved and hated about hourly work to try and figure out if we could make it better.

One of the tools we used in our research was Typeform. We designed simple questionnaires that asked what was good and bad about work. Then we used Facebook to find people working in companies like Amazon, McDonald’s and Bupa to anonymously fill them out.

And the responses we got were incredible.

But more interesting than the data we gathered, was the fact that everyone who took part wanted to see everyone else's answers.

Telling you what job ads don't

We realised we’d stumbled on something: there’s a huge information gap for workers.

Job descriptions are terrible - one study found that 20% of ads didn’t even include rates of pay. The Glassdoor rating system is skewed by angry ex-employees or gamed by unscrupulous employers and doesn’t cover the stuff that really matters for hourly workers (who really cares what the approval rating of the CEO is?).

Most people rely on information about jobs shared through friends and family - and that doesn’t scale. There’s also loads of stuff you don’t want to share publicly, even with close friends: what you’re paid and how you’re treated at work can be incredibly personal.

Plus people don’t expect much from hourly work. We’ve spoken with many people who didn’t know company sick pay could be an employer benefit.

They simply never took time off work when they were ill because they wouldn’t get paid.

And so Breakroom was born.

What's it like working at Tesco

We turned our research tool into a 30-question quiz that covers the stuff hourly workers told us they wanted to know about work.

We anonymise and aggregate their answers to rate employers.

And we use that information to help workers understand what a job is really like.

We’ve had over 170,000 UK workers take the quiz so far and we’ve rated more than 1,400 employers.

But we’re just getting started.

We’re trying to do much more than build another job review site.

We want to use the information workers are sharing to help make all jobs better. And prove that better jobs aren’t only good for workers, they’re good for companies too. 

If we can do that, we’ll have made the world a more equal place, by making every job a good one.

Published on 11 October 2021