A new piece of research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology this week reports that taking micro-breaks when you feel you need them during the working day will make you feel more engaged and less fatigued.
At The Tara Building, we are focused on providing a coworking space, in the heart of Dublin city centre, that offers remote workers the opportunity to be as productive as possible. From the inspiring art to the warm hospitality, we’re a little obsessed with managing the workspace to make it as conducive to increasing the work performance of the members in our community. So let’s review the findings of this academic study to see if there are learnings from it that we can offer that will assist in getting the most out of your working day.
As a member of The Tara Building we offer a complimentary refreshment station with a state of the art, barista style coffee machine, choice of teas and selection of fresh juices along with fruit as well as a fully fitted Kitchen so that the members can enjoy making their own lunches. However, according to this latest piece of research, we should be taking more micro-breaks and not just a lunch break.
For many of us, lunchtime is the only real breakaway from the focus of a long workday. And even then, one survey found over half those questioned said they end up eating lunch at their desk.
Perhaps we don’t feel we can take a micro-break or are worried we might lose our train of thought…..But these little chats with others that we might have during a coffee break or a short stroll upstairs to The Tara Building’s roof garden helps improve overall well-being, reduces fatigue, stress levels and enhances work engagement, according to this new research.
Sophia Cho, from North Carolina State University and co-author on the new study says, “A microbreak is, by definition, short. But a five-minute break can be golden if you take it at the right time.”
This new research surveyed two groups of office workers as well as tracking movements across a given workday, the surveys asked about sleep quality and general levels of fatigue. The research was specifically interested in how fatigue in the morning influenced the frequency of microbreaks throughout the subsequent workday. Unsurprisingly, those more tired in the morning took more frequent microbreaks. But importantly, those engaging in microbreaks reported better overall work engagement and less fatigue at the end of the day.
“Basically, microbreaks help you manage your energy resources over the course of the day – and that’s particularly beneficial on days when you’re tired,” notes Cho.
The study showed that the one of key benefits of microbreaks was the freedom to choose when to take them. They can’t be scheduled by an organisation so this is an automonomous decision, made by the individual in response to their overall requirement. At The Tara Building we are delighted to see more research showing the health and work benefits of those who are empowered to freely make their own decisions about how and when to work.
The idea of breaking a workday up into shorter periods of focus, interspersed with brief fleeting breaks, goes back to a key study in the 1980s.
However the research did not advise on the ideal length of time a microbreak should take. Subsequent studies looked at the duration required for the micro-break to be effective. And while there is no one methodology for how to best microbreak, this new research suggests a worker’s autonomy is fundamental in allowing individuals to modulate their own energy and engagement levels across a workday.
So whether you are facing back to back video calls or non stop replies to emails – remember you need to recharge your brain and step away from your work for 5-10 minutes. Move around, go for a stroll, call a friend or family member, pick up your audio book or meditate. Don’t feel guilt, this is all about taking a refresher to you’ll feel even more inspired when you return to your work.
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