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Office Mini Breaks - The Ultimate Guide to Boost Productivity

28 December 2023

What if we told you that encouraging your staff to take more breaks is one of the best strategies to increase their productivity? The concept of office breaks is often viewed as a barrier to increasing productivity by many business owners, human resource specialists, and other people in leadership roles.

However, making employees work continuously without any breaks may potentially be lowering your total productivity and causing long-term health issues for your workforce. More frequent breaks can help employees stay intellectually awake and engaged in their work, according to recent scientific studies. Increased breaks can also significantly lower the risk of musculoskeletal problems that result from prolonged sitting.

When we talk about taking breaks at work, we may misinterpret it as a 15- to 30-minute-long lunch or coffee break; most employers even discourage them. The good news is that there is mounting proof that taking even brief mini breaks can have a positive impact on both your physical and emotional health. And by mini breaks we don't mean a 15-minute break. Let's delve a little deeper into the importance of ergonomic mini breaks at work.

Why Are Mini Breaks Necessary?

Weariness and fatigue can often lead to poor performance and lack of motivation to work. Mini breaks are regular 5-7-minute breaks taken at regular intervals (after every hour) to reboot the mind and stimulate the muscles. Mini breaks are great for workers who don't have a lot of time on their hands to take regular lunch breaks.

Even though the breaks are brief, they can have a significant impact because studies have shown that they can increase workers' focus, alter how they view their employment, and even protect them from the common injuries that come with sitting at a desk all day.

How Do Microbreaks Work?

Microbreaks are characterised as brief, spontaneous, and voluntary rest periods taken during the course of a workday. The purpose of a microbreak is to give employees a chance to shift their body positions and temporarily refocus their attention on something else. This lessens physical stress and tiredness as well as the mental fog that can often result from working on the same task for hours on end.

A mini break should typically last between 5 and 7 minutes and is, by definition, very brief. For some employees, a mini break might give them a chance to momentarily unwind while engaging in an optional activity like:

Eating quick snacks

Making coffee

Conversing with a coworker

Performing brief stretches or other workplace exercises

Completing a crossword puzzle

Going up and down the stairs

Taking a stroll outside for fresh air

Taking a five-minute meditation session

Advantages of Mini Breaks

Your staff will benefit from mini breaks in two ways: by increasing attention and productivity and by lowering their risk of MSDs and other workplace-related illnesses. According to studies, encouraging your staff to take regular microbreaks will help them focus better while also lowering stress at work. According to a recent study on the workplace, employees who frequently took microbreaks reported increased work engagement during the day and less end-of-work exhaustion.

Mini breaks can also be very helpful in preserving staff health. They are crucial for resting your eyes while working long hours in front of a computer screen, safeguarding your vision and eyesight. Reducing postural and positional stress, which can cause headaches, low back discomfort, or carpal tunnel syndrome, requires getting up from the desk and engaging in some exercise or stretching.

The fact that these little breaks improve your focus and productivity rather than detracting from your job is one of the main arguments for taking microbreaks.

Long periods of sitting are not how humans are built. This can lead to spinal misalignment, muscle tension, and energy depletion. By promoting healthy sitting positions, a good ergonomic chair can counteract these consequences. On top of that, adding frequent, brief pauses can help you stay in optimum health.

Your brain will have time to process the prior work by taking a break from a task. Protecting your neck and back requires designing a comfortable, ergonomic workspace. The suggestions listed below will safeguard your spine and general health, from simply taking more breaks to completely remodelling your workspace with a sit-stand workstation.

Ergonomic Standing Desks

There are several ergonomically engineered products available to make your job more comfortable and support spine health. To encourage good posture, you can think about investing in a specific chair, a computer accessory, or a sit-stand desk.

To suit your unique requirements, these products can be modified. They might also promote long-term healthy behaviours that can lessen or even eliminate neck and back discomfort. For instance, sit-to-stand workstations provide a smooth transition from a sitting to a standing position while working. These workstations motivate you to switch up your posture throughout the day, which has a host of positive health effects.

You should take the time to research any potential purchases you may make before making them because ergonomic products are an investment in your health. Since they frequently result in a change in your posture that is advantageous in the long run, certain ergonomic items may feel unusual or slightly uncomfortable at first. Some items can be compared to new shoes, which initially feel weird but later become comfortable. After a suitable trial period, it's appropriate to discontinue utilising a product if the discomfort persists. But the great thing about standing desks is that they come with various adjustable features. So you can adjust the height and angle of the desk according to your preference.

When purchasing a sit-stand desk, there are additional factors to take into account if you're thinking about an adjustable height desk. Making time for some mild stretches will help you maintain better spine health at work. Alternately, you can think about investing in a sit-stand desk that motivates you to change your posture frequently during the day. Whatever you decide, incorporating some basic ergonomic principles into your working to keep your back and neck in mind will add some health to your 9 to 5, and may even help you avoid future pain.

How to Add Mini Breaks to Your Day

Like anything else, taking advantage of microbreaks requires proper execution. For instance, although we believe an encourage exercising every day because we are aware of its benefits, executing it as a daily routine is a lot harder. Nonetheless, mini breaks are simpler to implement because they need far less effort and dedication.

Scheduling calendar reminders throughout the day to remind you it's time for a microbreak will help you avoid getting overwhelmed with work and forgetting to take them. You can also collaborate with a coworker to organise frequent meetups. Having a partner will boost your likelihood of following through, just like going to the gym. Drinking lots of water at work is probably the best way to stick to a regular micro-break schedule. By doing this, you'll make sure you regularly get up from your desk.

Sitting at your desk all day without a break at work adds to the already stressful situation. Even though you might not have time for regular lunch breaks or even breaks, taking quick breaks periodically during the day will be good for your mental, physical, and professional health.

The Type of Work Matters

Microbreaks seems to primarily benefit employees performing certain types of activity. According to a study, employees who work in monotonous jobs or perform repetitive tasks every day can greatly benefit from mini breaks.

Routine tasks are those that can be completed with a high degree of automation and don't call for a person to use all of their cognitive abilities. The investigation highlighted that this could increase the likelihood of a mistake by causing the attention to stray to unrelated or additional work tasks. Therefore, taking a break can reduce the likelihood of errors and refocus the worker's attention on the task at hand.

Final Thoughts

Short breaks enable the worker to concentrate on something different from the task they are currently working on, which can boost flexibility and enhance creative performance. However, cognitively demanding tasks—those that call for a lot of mental effort—did not significantly benefit from microbreaks in terms of performance. The research showed that, for some individuals, a brief break could restore vigour but not entirely replenish the mental resources required to finish the work.

It's up to employees to experiment with what works best for them because there isn't agreement on how long or how frequently the ideal mini break should last. In fact, if you frequently lean back to chat with the person sitting next to you or sneak a glance at your phone, you may already be an expert at the technique. There are only two principles for mini breaks: they must be brief and voluntary.

Despite not being constructed of chips and circuits, the human body is still a complicated machine. The similarity between humans and computers is that both eventually experience burnout. Mini breaks are a great method to reset both your body and mind. Your productivity can increase dramatically in only a few short minutes.