Julie Tucker
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The benefits of micro-breaks at work

A new phenomenon known as micro-breaking is helping busy workers to improve their mental wellbeing, performance and productivity. The term describes taking even an extremely short break from mentally draining tasks to give the brain a rest from intense concentration.

Research has revealed a micro-break provides an opportunity to process the information and devise new ideas, rather than feeling under pressure and stressed.

What is a micro-break?

According to a study published in Psychology Today, 22% of employees say they don’t have time to take breaks at all because they’re “too busy”. If that sounds familiar, this research is aimed at you, as never taking a break can lead to impaired performance and early burnout.

A micro-break involves looking away from the computer screen and doing something different and enjoyable for an instant “recharge”. Even a tiny break of around two minutes can have a disproportionately large positive impact on the brain.

While it’s always important to take longer breaks, including lunch, a micro-break can help us to cope at particularly stressful and busy times.

What should you do during a micro-break for the best results? The answer is pretty much anything you enjoy doing for relaxation.

Have you seen the cringeworthy scene in TV sitcom The Office, when socially awkward boss David Brent tells his employees, “Laughter is the best medicine,” before laughing inanely for about 30 seconds? While his actions border on the ridiculous, there may be more truth in his words than you imagine. Although he didn’t realise it at the time, he was demonstrating what is now called a micro-break!

Improve workplace performance

No-one should deny themselves a short break, even on the most hectic of days. If you’re wondering how to increase productivity in the workplace, this is the answer.

A body of research suggests that taking several smaller breaks of between two and ten minutes throughout the working day is vital to manage stress.

This is as important as taking a lunch break, as rather than battling on through the day, trying to ignore mental tiredness, it’s better to recognise emotional needs.

According to a recent study by Cogent Engineering, there are various risks associated with prolonged sitting time in sedentary roles. We’ve touched upon the mental benefits of regular breaks for office workers, but of course, the physical benefits are equally important.

The study found that participating in two to three minutes’ physical activity after 30 minutes of sedentary tasks can reduce musculoskeletal discomfort, relieve fatigue and improve cardio rate.

You’ll return to your desk in a less stressed-out and more comfortable state. This improves concentration, performance, productivity and overall feelings of wellbeing.

Being able to take a break when needed also influences how people view their job, making it seem more enjoyable in general.

Benefits of coworking spaces

Detaching from work tasks regularly can revitalise you in the short and longer term to combat burnout, anxiety and emotional trauma. This is where coworking can help – you can take those all-important micro-breaks.

According to scientific findings in Psychology Today, employees in creative sectors and those carrying out clerical duties find micro-breaks particularly rewarding.

A short break boosts performance among the demographics of employees who typically choose coworking spaces, but particularly those in creative roles, who feel less inspired if they’ve been staring at a laptop screen for hours without a break. They may experience mental block and feel devoid of ideas.

In a traditional workplace, where there’s little flexibility, it may be difficult to simply walk away from your desk at random times during the day, but in a coworking space, such as Headspace Group’s flexible work space in London, going to break out spaces or for a coffee and snack in our well-stocked kitchens is the norm.

Even turning to chat to the person behind you can be considered a micro-break – and there’s no shortage of like-minded individuals in the vicinity for inspiring conversations. Employees who do something they enjoy on a micro-break feel a higher level of job satisfaction afterwards. For many of us, having a chat with a colleague is relaxing and enjoyable.

Business networking in London is an integral part of every entrepreneur’s day-to-day life, so those informal chats away from our desk have another useful purpose, helping to build important relationships.

For employees fortunate enough to be coworking in London, a micro-break at our Farringdon office can even include taking a refreshing shower or enjoying a free breakfast.

While the only official break is often lunch in a traditional corporate office, a coworking space offers many more options to fit in with how you’re feeling.


© DC Studio / Shutterstock.com




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