Taking Breaks Beneficial for Remote Teams

a lady and her dog taking a break lying in the grass

Why Taking Breaks is beneficial for your remote team

Taking breaks, sound foreign? For the past year, almost all teams have been working from home. Striving to do your best work from home is admirable but the line between work-life balance has been blurred. When the worlds of work and home overlap, it can be overwhelming. 

Many team members are working longer hours now that work and home are in the same place. It is important to remember to encourage your team to take breaks and it is important to take breaks as a leader. These breaks should be penciled into your schedule! 

In this blog post, we share a few ways to create a culture where taking breaks while working remotely is encouraged, as well as the benefits of taking time away from your screen. 

Why are breaks beneficial?

If you find yourself unable to focus, struggling with tasks, or your eyes begin to feel strained, it might be time to take a break. 

It gives you a chance to refresh and recharge. Taking a break from work allows you to refocus and realign. 

People might think that taking breaks is not productive but when a break is done with the right intentions it is actually quite the opposite. It helps your brain as well as your body. Taking a break can help you accomplish more throughout the day. It can also lower stress and anxiety. 

Try to give each break a clear intention. Focus on what you need from your break and it will give you a better idea of what to do with your time. When you return to your work, you want to be refreshed. How can breaks help us in the workplace? Discover a few ways how taking breaks can benefit your work. 

Make better decisions

It can be draining to make frequent tough decisions, therefore magnifying the importance of taking a break before making a big choice. This will give your mind clarity and you’ll have the energy to ensure you make the right decisions for you and your team. You’ll be able to come back calmer and with a different approach to the problems. 

More productivity when working remotely

With no way to break up the work day from personal life, it has become more difficult for workers to disengage. It’s important to switch off work mode and separate yourself from personal life and work life. 

Working non-stop can mean a decline in performance the longer you focus on one task. Downtime is important and can help you refocus and re engage for when you come back to work. 

Stay Creative

Moments of clarity are more likely to come to you when you take a moment away from your task. Our brain has two ways of functioning. Diffused and focused. The diffused mode allows ideas to emerge when least expected. Instead of forcing yourself to look for the answer, it comes to you when you are focusing on something else. 

How do we create a culture where breaks are encouraged?

Hustle culture has had a negative impact on the way some people view breaks! Some teams feel that taking a break will hinder their performance. It is important for remote teams to feel that taking breaks is encouraged and accepted. 

It is important for teams to take productive breaks. The key to a perfect break is doing something completely different from your work. For example, if you sit and stare at a computer all day, you’ll want to do something away from the computer. Do something that brings happiness and joy as well. 

This is not a one size fits all solution but we have provided a few ways to create a culture where taking breaks is seen as a positive. 

Be clear about your expectations and set limits

It’s important to communicate what you expect of your teammates. Try to get an understanding for where your team stands. Have set times for breaks and schedules instead of waiting for the opportunity to take a break to pop up. Teams should not be expected to have to reply after work hours or be available 24/7. The line between work and home has been blurred so setting an expectation from the get-go will be helpful to everyone. 

Communicate with the team

Give your team a heads up when you are planning on taking a break. This will ensure you get uninterrupted time and they will be covered for the time you’re away. Set your status to away, black out certain times in your calendar, or turn your phone on silent. You don’t want to take work with you on your break. This time is meant to help you be more productive in the long run. 

Applaud teams based on performance rather than busyness

Being busy can be perceived as being productive and effective. This belief can cause workers to overwork, burnout quicker, and produce subpar results. What truly matters is  the work gets done properly. Many successful organizations such as Netflix focus on the outcome rather than the input. 

Increase psychological safety

We’ve talked about psychological safety in a previous blog post. More workers are feeling burnt out thanks to restructuring the way they work while homeschooling the kids, juggling other family matters, and the overall effects of the pandemic. The problem is  team members feel unsafe or fearful of what will happen if they openly discuss their feelings. 

Implement regular check-in meetings with your team to get a sense of how they’re truly doing. Encourage your team to come to you if they’re having troubles or concerns. Try to understand what is making them overwhelmed or anxious. 

Don’t forget to take breaks once you’ve met your daily quota. Turn off the computer when you are done for the day so you can refocus and rejuvenate for the next day! Make the most of your time working from home. Finding the balance between work time and break time is key. 

How do you create a work environment where breaks are encouraged?  Leave us a comment. We’d love to hear your thoughts. 

NexLevel’s Team Strategists help leaders shift from the frustration of managing people to the satisfaction of achieving goals. We understand the science behind how people interact with their world and will partner with you to help reduce burnout in the workplace.

We would love to hear from you. Contact us today.

Additional reading on remote or silo’d teams, check out Pat Lencioni’s book ‘Silos, Politics and Turf Wars‘ where he tackles a prominent symptom of corporate frustration: silos, the invisible barriers that separate work teams, departments and divisions.

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