Bring back the smoke break!
By: Ryan Burgio
May 1, 2019 | Reading Time: 4 mins
Ah, the pause that refreshes. A drag of a dart that gives us a quick break from the stress of the day. Yes, smoking is inherently unhealthy, but the break? The break is glorious and comes with its own series of health benefits. There’s the stress relief of stepping away from your work and the physical benefits of stepping away from your desk. A break in screen time is good for your eyes and a break from sitting is good for your back. The list goes on.
So while we can’t necessarily encourage the workforce to hack a cigarette, we should think of replacing the smoke break with something new. Every hour or two we need a reason to decompress, connect with colleagues, and get a refresh.
No ideas? No worries. Here are some options.
The Scream Break!
It’s a fact that Stryvers want to scream at me multiple times a day. Can I blame them? No. I hover around their desks telling jokes and demanding laughter. They work hard and I don’t do much else. That’s gotta be frustrating.
What if they had a way to unleash their anger? What about a scream break? Arise from your desk, walk to the back door, step outside into the fresh air and let out a scream. It could be a team thing, too. Frustrated with the latest roadblock? Go outside as a group, hold hands, and scream together. Call it team building.
Alternatively, you could call it therapy. While screaming is a common form of stress relief — check out these stress relief scream pillows from Amazon — Primal Therapy is actually an old psychological practice to relieve patients of repression. Maybe I’m onto something here…
The “Go Home” Break
Not feeling the juices flowing at work? Why stay? Take a permanent break by heading home to that welcoming couch of yours. Pull out the snuggie and pump out that blog post you’ve been meaning to write. No distractions. No frustrations. Just you, a warm cup of java and the permission to flow in and out of consciousness at will.
While I’ll admit the Scream Break is a longshot, the “Go Home” Break isn’t so crazy. Siestas are commonplace in Spain, while riposos allow Italians to shut it down for as many as 2 hours every afternoon. If it’s working in other countries, why do we still equate productivity with office hours here in North America?
The Skipping Break
Want to immediately be in a good mood? Go for a skip. Not to be confused with jump rope, I’m talking the skipping that comes naturally to a child free of care.
It sounds ridiculous, but it’s actually a great workout. Apart from that, it is ridiculous. Want to lighten a tense work atmosphere? Watch a grown-ass adult skip. It’s hilarious.
Remember, Neil Armstrong skipped on the moon. You think you’re better than Neil freakin’ Armstrong? If it’s good enough for NASA, it’s good enough for your company.
If skipping isn’t your thing, going for a walk is fine. We’ve blogged before about fostering creativity with boredom. If you’re hitting a wall, take a walk and let your mind wander.
The Lunch Break
Hear me out. What if employees were encouraged to take a break each day in which they left their desk to eat a meal? A 2017 study showed that 40% of Canadians take lunch at their desk. On top of that, 20% of employees don’t take lunch out of fear of judgment. As it turns out, that fear is warranted, with 22% of employers viewing lunch takers as less productive.
Believe it or not, that judgment should be flipped, as employees who take lunch are said to be more productive and engaged with their work.
So how can you get back to basics and encourage lunch breaks? Make it a team thing or set an example by taking lunch yourself. At our new office, we have lunch tables set up specifically for lunch breaks. It’s not rocket science.
Get Your Break On
While some of these ideas are a bit out there, the idea of taking breaks throughout the day isn’t. Studies have shown the average 8-hour workday contains just 3 hours of focused productivity while taking breaks can actually increase productivity. Denmark and the Netherlands clock between 29 and 32 hours of work each week and they seem to be doing fine. Maybe they’re onto something.
Hopefully, this inspires you to take some breaks throughout your day. It probably hasn’t, but hey, I needed a break from typical marketing blogs. Count this as my blog writing smoke break.