Work breaks enhance productivity, study finds

Productivity in the workplace has increased in recent years, the survey has found, and other trends—including Bring Your Own Device policies and re-imagined work spaces—are gaining favor.

When your productivity starts to ebb, take five. A short break may seem like an obvious solution, but office workers and managers agree that break times are essential to a productive workday.

A recent study by Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of the office supply company Staples Inc., shows that more than 70 percent of office workers and managers alike believe employees are more productive today than they were five years ago. Break times, mobile technology, and telecommuting were all cited as reasons for increased productivity, but Staples Advantage suggests we can do better.

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Like bag phones and floppy disks, the traditional wall-to-wall cubicle layout is a thing of the not-so-distant past, and a water cooler in the corner won’t cut it as a “break room.”

“Stepping away from work in nearby break rooms helps foster productivity by allowing healthy mental breaks,” Staples cited in a press release about the study.

What does Staples suggest companies do to promote communication, nurture creativity, and provide employee satisfaction?

  • Include a variety of snacks and comfortable furniture in break rooms.
  • Design an open office environment by including a mix of casual and formal meeting areas to encourage spontaneous conversation and teamwork.
  • Equip employees with the technology they need to get work done efficiently, including products that enable telecommuting.

The study also showed that 35 percent of workers and 54 percent of managers believe Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies will increase productivity. BYOD strategy allows employees to use a personally selected and purchased mobile device, and employers to cover the data plan during the period of employment.

A study by Gartner, a leading information technology research and advisory company, found that 38 percent of companies expect to stop providing devices to workers by 2016, and Gartner predicts that half of employers could impose a mandatory BYOD policy by 2017.

Despite increased productivity, we still face obstacles in efficiency throughout the workweek. Staples Advantage found that the following are believed to decrease productivity:

  • Too many meetings (44 percent workers, 44 percent managers)
  • Nice weather (27 percent workers, 26 percent managers)
  • Office temperature (40 percent workers, 38 percent managers)

Could outdoor conference spaces be the norm for the next generation?

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