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Taking A Break: Reward or Right

December 17, 2020

Remote Working, Workplace Culture

On a scroll through Twitter, we came across this tweet that got us thinking:


The ability to switch off and how you can keep the work/life balance if you’re working from home, so seeing this really got us thinking.

Admittedly, when working on a blog or a landing page or social post - the stuff that us as a marketing team do on a regular basis, we often say stuff like “I’ll finish up this blog and then I’ll go for lunch” or “just let me schedule this then I’ll make a coffee”. Our breaks come with a justification. We’ve completed a task so we can reward ourselves with a break.

At Wundamail, our lunch isn’t a set time - we’ve all got stuff to do, and we just take our lunch break when it works for us, so it’s often dictated by workload, meetings or whether we’re in the zone, not necessarily when we need a break. Think about it, have you ever been focused on what you’re doing, looked up and it’s suddenly dark outside, particularly in Winter? Or you look at the time and it’s 3pm and you haven’t eaten yet? Or the common refrain of a busy office “Oh my God I can’t believe it’s 5pm already?”

Research shows that we’re most effective in short bursts of pure focus and when we have regular breaks. We’re not machines, we’re not programmed to focus solidly for 8 hours a day and it doesn’t tend to work out long term if we try to work that way. We have to refresh and taking breaks allows us to do just that.

That’s why we have breaks in school days, in between uni classes, at work. It’s why we try and get a good eight hours of sleep or have power naps. We need rest to function at our best. Rest and recuperation aren’t just for exercise and injuries - our brains and our mental health need it too.

The word burnout has been used a lot in recent years. Our always on culture where bosses can contact their employees at all times of the day, at weekends, on holidays has made it difficult to switch off. Add in a pandemic and the necessity to work from home, and that makes putting work to one side after 5.30pm nearly impossible.

So what’s the solution? We’ve got to close the laptop and turn off the work phone at some point, but we also need to ensure that our work is completed to a high standard.

Meetings take up a huge chunk of our working time, often with a disproportionate time to outcome ratio. So, replacing face to face meetings or Zoom meetings with a written daily check in such as Wundamail can condense status updates into one simply compilation email. This frees up more time to do actual work and because of that, there’s more time to take breaks.

By all means, get to the end of what you’re working on - if you’re in the zone, you’re in the zone, but remember to take regular breaks. Otherwise you’ll spend more time unpicking and redoing work you’ve already done.

So, is rest a reward or a right? The answer realistically is that it’s both, and you have to treat it as both. If you just use rest as a reward you’re probably going to be stressed and jump from task to task without coming up for air. If you use it just as a right, taking a dedicated break at exactly the same time every day, you’re probably going to be taking breaks in the middle of your tasks and end up taking twice as long to find your train of thought again after your break. Neither are good for productivity or our stress levels.

Rest is both a reward and right and you have to be able to switch off at the end of the day. Wundamail allows you to be able to switch off, safe in the knowledge that you’ve checked in, you know what you’re doing for the week ahead and that everyone knows where they stand. Wundamail has you covered, take a rest it’s your right and you’ve earned it.

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