Take a break, you deserve it.
As we creep back to work after the summer break, and ease out of social distancing restrictions, it may feel a little uncertain as to whether we should take breaks – coffee breaks, long weekends, or even a holiday. Some will be returning to the office full time, others will either continue to work full time from home or move to a hybrid of the two. With this disparity across and within all industries, and after such a disrupted year, it is understandable that some might not feel that it’s “right” to take a break.
Whilst working from home has had its advantages, people are less likely to take a break either during the day, or as annual leave. Perhaps subconsciously we feel that being at home is a break in itself, or that not having to commute means we have to add extra working hours to our day. When you do not have to stop work to beat the rush home on a commuter train, the temptation to just continue working is difficult to avoid.
This may even be the case when we return to the office. Is it still ok to take annual leave when we’ve only just returned to the office?
Taking a break from work is vital. It helps us relax, recharge and avoid that inevitable burn out. Working from the moment you wake right up to the moment you go back to sleep may make you less productive. Scientific studies have shown that without a break, you lose focus and concentration, you are more likely to make mistakes and your ability to make the right decisions is significantly impaired by what is essentially fatigue.
Not only that, but it is also your statutory right to take annual leave and to have a break during the working day. When you are working from home, you are still working.
How then can you encourage yourself or your colleagues to take a break?
My 5 top tips are as follows:
- Enjoy your break
Do something you want to do, and not just because you have to do it. Your break should make you happy to reduce the stress and anxiety potentially caused by work
- Have an email exile
Give yourself an allocated time a day away from your emails. This could be turning your phone off in the evening or making sure your out of office is on for annual leave.
- Don’t interrupt
Try to avoid sending emails to your colleagues whilst they’re on annual leave. If you must, start the subject with “Not Urgent: For your return” or words to that effect.
- Sharing is caring
Ask how your colleagues’ how their holidays are going. Regularly catch up with people working from home.
Send pictures of any projects you’re doing in your daily breaks e.g. painting, walking the dog, mowing the lawn; or exciting recipes you’ve tried on your lunch breaks.
- Be social
If you’re in the office with colleagues, go for a lunch together away from the office. Plan regular social events with your team.
There are so many ways to strike the right work and home life balance, so find out what works best for you. In the immortal words of Bob Marley, “Don’t worry, be happy”.