We are meant to take breaks. It’s in our DNA to recharge our batteries and get ready for our next pursuit.
As a company leader, this can be a tough principle to fully embrace. Sometimes the distinction between breaks and distractions feels blurred, so we’d rather just not deal with breaks at all. Some managers envision employees as machines to be plugged in at 8am and unplugged at 5pm. Of course the machine can go idle for an hour during lunch, but other than that, “there’s work to be done!” As efficient as that approach might seem, since employees tend to be human, it’s destined to fail.
The reality is that breaks are a useful tool that make our companies better. After all, breaks have been proven to increase employee productivity, creativity, and efficiency. Not to mention increased happiness and health. Most of us recognize this deep down, but knowing when (and what kind of) breaks are acceptable can be a real challenge.
I said that employees tend to be human, but I’d like to add a modifier: Employees tend to be adult humans. Assuming you have the right people on your team and you trust them, sometimes the best way to set them free to do great work is to do just that: set them free! Let them take breaks when needed. Allow coffee breaks and short power naps. Don’t get mad when they watch a funny YouTube video to decompress. In short, encourage short breaks when they’re needed—especially for your employees who get tunnel vision or burn out.
Now, every company, team, and employee is different, so don’t assume there’s a one-size-fits-all solution. Some acceptable forms of breaks at one company will turn into burdensome distractions at another company. The point is make room for breaks in your company and find the right mix.
To help you know how to manage breaks and turn them to your advantage, here’s an infographic from Quill.com that will get you off to a good start (or rather, stop). Enjoy!