Enjoy the break: Taking time away from the office
Posted by Hayley Blacker on 27/03/2019
Are people who take a break from work actually more productive?
...Work-life balance is a buzz word (or phrase) that is often thrown about, but a workplace issue that is vital to address if businesses want happy, committed and productive staff members.
With that in mind, we thought we’d touch on two lesser talked about workplace issues: working whilst on holiday and going home on time, and how these reflect the wider importance of taking time away from the office.
Jet setting: life beyond business
An antidote to long working hours and the high-pressure culture of modern business life, annual leave is a vital part of creating a positive work-life balance. However, today’s technologically-led world is making this harder than ever before.
Remote working means staff members can be constantly connected to their jobs, whether they’re sat on a beach or somewhere else that’s meant to be relaxing. Even if employers promote time away from the desk or laptop, it is near impossible to enforce a strict no-working culture.
Employers themselves are often guilty of the inability to switch off. With that in mind, perhaps the secret to a happy holiday lies in learning to delegate. As well as being an executive skill and one that should never be underestimated, if those on annual leave can delegate tasks, they can switch off but also entrust their colleagues. In turn, this can be a great confidence boost for employees back in the workplace – particularly if the delegated tasks come from the employer or manager.
For many, taking a break during work is important for refreshing and relaxing the mind. Quite often this can lead to improved productivity and a reduction in stress levels.
Going home on time
Individuals need time to thrive – not just money. Arguably, happy and healthy people are those that effectively manage their time between work and home. However, working late is now commonplace across businesses. Take these statistics from the 2017 ‘Modern Families Index’ for example: just a third (34%) of UK parents go home on time everyday, with one in ten UK parents spending less than an hour with their family as a whole on a working day.
With working lives becomingly increasingly blurred with time away from the desk, it is perhaps no surprise that “going home on time” is gaining momentum – so much so that there is now a specific day to promote it; Working Families, the UK’s work-life balance organisation, are pushing for workers to go home on time on the longest day of the year (22st June) in order to “start a national discussion that puts work life balance and employee wellbeing at the forefront and stress that going home on time should be the norm, not the exception”.
As well as promoting personal wellbeing outside of work, it is important to provide spaces within the office where your staff can have 5 minutes with their mind on something unrelated to their work. It can quite often spark inspiration!
More fulfilled lives make for better employees
It isn’t just current employees that can benefit from time away from the desk every now and then. A recent Times article described one employer’s concern about the lack of breadth of certain candidates he came across: “They were clever and ambitious, but incredibly narrow in their thinking”. He told one of them to go away and read a novel – something this person had never done.
Widening this idea to everyone in the workplace, it’s fair to say that having a life outside of business has to be an asset. If individuals are well-rounded, with their own interests and social lives, they are far more likely to succeed in the professional world. After all, business is more often about dealing with people than balance sheets.
This echoes the importance of having evenings and holidays away from the office; as well as maintaining personal wellbeing, broader lives make for more sociable and creative individuals – and surely that is a vital component of any thriving business?
The ideal work-life balance may be discussed more than it is achieved, but a great place to start is with a workplace that promotes communication and flexibility for the time that is spent working.