Yes, You Still Need to Take Breaks While Working From Home

Work Breaks Publié le 6 April 2020 Par

Breaks are an important part of the workday. This may sound counter-intuitive, but part of working hard is knowing when it’s time to step away momentarily. And you still need to take breaks while working from home. Taking work breaks leaves us feeling mentally and physically refreshed, helping to avoid potential burnout. On a broader level, studies have shown that workers who take regular breaks are more satisfied with their job and less likely to seek employment elsewhere. Taking regular breaks should always be part of your work schedule, both in your workplace or at home.

For the majority of people, work and home are two separate places for a reason. Both require our attention and effort, but in different ways. Completing work assignments and fulfilling personal responsibilities are both important things we do everyday, and having these two worlds physically separate helps us to channel our energy the proper way at the proper time. When we work from home, this separation is removed and these two worlds instantly mash together. This change can be jarring, as is figuring out how to manage ourselves when these worlds suddenly overlap.

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.

Taking breaks helps us to remember that work time is finite and stops. When the work day is over, it’s important that we be able to step away and leave our tasks and projects behind. This is true even when we physically remain in the same place. Taking regular shorter breaks, even as short as 10 minutes, combined with longer lunch breaks will help keep the same rhythm as we did while physically present in the office, the routine that ends with us leaving at the end of the day and returning in the morning with a fresh mind. 

Breaks Boost Productivity

We all know how it feels when we get into a good working rhythm, where we feel able to complete our tasks efficiently and effectively. When we transition to working from home, it can be difficult to get into the same productive rhythm as we adjust to our new circumstances. Once we finally feel that we’re working well, it’s easy to start skipping breaks in order to stay in the zone. This, however, is a mistake. Taking work breaks can actually help us be more productive.

If you are concerned about maintaining your level of productivity while still taking breaks, you can find multiple productivity methods that integrate them. For example, the Pomodoro Technique features both long and short breaks built into the schedule. This will allow us to maintain or boost our productivity while still taking important work breaks. 

Adjusting to working from home will be different for everybody, so take the time to experiment with different productivity techniques — and their scheduled breaks — in order to find the one that best meets your needs. These will help us to stick to a routine, keep a productive schedule, and take the breaks we need to maintain our own well being.

Make A DecisionAfter A Work Break

Working from home gives us a dramatically higher level of autonomy. Even as we stay in contact with our team and continue to collaborate, we suddenly have many more decisions that we must make on our own. The increased number of choices we face can result in what is called “decision fatigue”. This is when we get overwhelmed making so many decisions that we put less than the ideal amount of effort and thought into the process, resulting in lower quality choices and often just selecting the easiest option. The easiest opinion, however, is not necessarily the correct one.

With many employees, businesses and companies facing economic challenges, every decision is important and deserves the proper attention and thought. Taking a work break before making a decision gives us the chance to refocus our minds. We will be better prepared to analyze the situation, review options and make the best decision — not the easiest. 

Better Breaks, Better Sleep, Better Work

Taking working breaks throughout the day will prepare our minds to disengage when the work day is over. As discussed earlier, this problem of work following us home is very real, and that’s before taking working from home into consideration. With no physical separation of the work and home space, 42% of employees report increased difficulty in getting a full night’s sleep while working from home.

Sleep and rest are incredibly important to our health. We need proper mental downtime to allow our brains to learn and process new information. A lack of rest can lead to memory problems, irritability, confusion and a host of physical problems if the situation lasts for a long time. Taking short work breaks during the day while working from home can help us be prepared to leave thoughts of work behind when it’s time for bed, allowing us to get a better sleep and be prepared to perform at our best the next day.

Working from home is an adjustment for everybody, one that takes time. Having our work space and our home space suddenly become one and the same can be a difficult transition. One way that we can help to adjust to working from home is taking properly scheduled work breaks. If you find yourself unable to focus, get a proper rest, or disengage from work tasks at the end of the day, the best thing to do may be to step back and take a work break.