Getting wrapped up in your work is so much easier now that you’re settled in, working at home. While great for productivity, it’s not all that great for your health. Now, missing those impromptu distractions that you had at the office, you find yourself a little burned out. In this article, I’ll give you some permission to “goof off” a little to boost productivity and energy levels.
Every business organization has its share of employees who seem to enjoy more leisure time at work than they do on their off-hours. You know the type I’m referring to, right? We’ve got Watercooler Willy and Chatty Patty at the Copier – those people who just love to while away the minutes (leading to hours) talking up a storm with anyone who happens to pass by. They’ll freely discuss every minute detail of their lives and are always willing to engage in a lively debate on the merits of insulated mugs versus eco-friendly biodegradable cups. I know I’ve exaggerated here a bit, but should all time spent away from a computer screen or cubicle be considered a waste? And what about those people who work from home? Should they be entitled to the same time breaks as those in an office environment? I believe that creating break times is a good thing and here’s the logic behind my response.
Get off your chair and move around a little
Susan Adams (author of Eight Ways Goofing Off Can Make You More Productive – Eight Ways Goofing Off Can Make You More Productive (forbes.com) says, “A growing body of research suggests that the longer you keep your rear end in your chair and your eyes glued to your screen, the less productive you may be. Getting up from your desk and moving not only heightens your powers of concentration, it enhances your health.”
At Dovico, our former CEO and now Culture Coach starts off every day with a 60-minute Baptiste Power Yoga session via Zoom for those employees who’d like to join him in becoming fit and relieving stress. Pre-pandemic times we’d start off every Monday morning with a short fitness routine often led by our CEO, Shelley Butler or Yves where those of us who wished could participate in person at our workplace. Those who took advantage of these sessions found that when they returned to their desks they were energized, more alert, and ready to conquer whatever the workday brought their way. Even a short 10-minute walk around the block helps clear the mind and refreshes your sense of concentration, so yes, these types of breaks are key to keeping you fully functional.
Yet now with Covid-19 causing more people to work from home, how does that affect those employees?
What do to when working from home?
In his article, Yes, You Still Need to Take Breaks While Working From Home, Matt Dodge writes: “Breaks helps us separate work/personal time. There can be serious consequences to a lack of separation between our work lives and personal lives. It can lead to a feeling of being at work 24/7. Always on, never off. There is even data that shows that this feeling isn’t in our heads, with employees who work from home working the equivalent of 1.4 extra days per month compared to office-bound colleagues. This extra work leads to extra pressure and extra stress. These stresses can have physical and mental side effects, with the same study also finding that 31% of work from home employees needed to take a day off for reasons relating to mental health and well-being.”
Personally, I’ve found working from home to be easier than I first anticipated. I have a designated office room with a door I can shut to keep out any distractions from the rest of the household, but I also make sure I take short physical breaks away from my laptop. Even if it’s simply walking to the kitchen to get a glass of ice water or an apple to munch on, I try and make myself take “10-minute time-outs” every hour and a half. Plus, I try to shut down my laptop as close to 5:00 pm as possible and not return to work until 8:00 am the next day. Sure, there are times when I have a deadline and need to work a bit of overtime, yet most days I stick to what would have been a “normal” workday at the office.
Well-timed breaks increase productivity
Inserting short breaks throughout your day also offers other more tangible benefits to the company as an employee’s alertness affects their ability to form cohesive and collaborative teams. If three people in the group are yawning or fidgeting because they’re too tired (or bored) after an hour of brainstorming, try having a 10-minute dance break with some funky music playing in the background. Get them up and moving to the beat. You can even make the break into a fun contest time by having everyone vote on who is the worst dancer and rewarding that person with a $10.00 gift card to the local coffee shop!
Break times lower stress levels, refreshes concentration, makes the employee healthier (and happier) all the while improving creativity and productivity. The old adage “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is certainly still true in todays business world, so do yourself (and your employees) a favour and take a break. Right now. You’ll thank me for it later.