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The Importance of Taking a Break When Working From Home

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people all over the world to find new ways of both living and working.

Working from home - once a perk to which only a small percentage of workers were entitled - has become a necessity, with many organisations now planning to stick with some version of remote working even when lockdowns are a thing of the past.

Working from home comes with a number of freedoms and benefits. Home workers spend less time commuting, can wear whatever clothes they wish - unless they need to suit up for an important Zoom meeting - and aren’t distracted by the chatter of a busy office. But there are also downsides: a house can be just as distracting as an office, if not more so, and the loss of a clear boundary between work and home can be incredibly stressful.

This is why taking a break is just as important when working from home as it is in the office.

Why you should take breaks

Breaks are an important part of life, not just the working day. This may sound a little counter-productive, but a big part of working hard and being productive is knowing when it’s time to step away from the keyboard.

Taking a break leaves one feeling both mentally and physically refreshed, which helps to prevent feelings of burnout. On a wider scale, past studies have proven that workers who take regular breaks are a lot more satisfied with their jobs and less likely to jump ship. Taking breaks should always be part of your working schedule, whether that’s in the workplace or at home.

Taking breaks helps to separate work and life

When you fail to separate your work commitments from your personal life, there can be serious consequences for your mental health. Worst of all is the feeling that you are stuck in ‘work mode’ all the time. Studies have shown that individuals who work from home end up working around 1.4 extra days each month compared to those who commute to an office. 

This extra work can lead to feelings of additional stress and pressure, resulting in both mental and physical side effects. Taking breaks helps us to remember that work is not a continuous part of life and can be switched off when needed. Break as short as 10 minutes (with longer breaks at lunchtime) can help to keep the same rhythm as when working in an office.

Taking breaks to boost productivity

When working in an office setting and surrounded by your colleagues - all of whom are presumably doing similar work - it’s quite easy to get into a good working rhythm where you feel super productive and can complete tasks efficiently. This rhythm, however, can be difficult to achieve when you’re working at home.

When transitioning from office-based working to remote working, it’s important to experiment with various productivity techniques to determine what works best for you. This should include taking regular - even scheduled - breaks; sticking to a consistent work/break programme will help you to find a steady, productive working rhythm.

Regular breaks help you to sleep and work better

By taking regular breaks throughout the working day, you will make it easier for yourself to switch off when the day is done. As mentioned above, by not taking breaks, you risk allowing work to spill over into your home life, making it difficult to differentiate between the two.

Studies have shown that when there is no physical separation between work and home, around 40% of workers report an increased difficulty in getting a full night’s sleep. This, of course, is a major issue for home workers, as rest is vitally important to our overall health and wellbeing. Long-term sleep deprivation can result in confusion, memory issues, and a range of physical problems.

By taking short breaks during the working day whilst working from home, you’ll be better prepared to leave work-related stress behind when it’s time to sleep, allowing you to rest properly and perform even better the following day.

 Creating your own space

A great way to separate your work from your personal life is to create a space that’s completely detached you’re your work: a space where you can step back, take a breath, and forget about all those flagged emails and looming deadlines.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many home workers have been putting a lot of effort into these work-free spaces, from verandas to patios and decking. Any of these can be your own private retreat where you can leave work behind and focus on other things that are important to you.

Conversely, some people have created spaces that are exclusively for work, so that the rest of the home remains a work-free zone. Demand for garden rooms has recently shot up, with former office workers now needing a dedicated office space at home. It’s certainly better than spending the working day at the kitchen table or on the sofa—places that should be associated with quality time, not work!

The ability to take breaks when working from home is important, and it’s just as important to understand how and when to take them.

Hopefully, this article has helped to shed some light on the importance of regular intervals when working remotely and can inspire you to find a healthy balance between your work and personal life.

Blog by Reece Walters from 

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