When that midafternoon energy slump hits, what are the options at your office?
A quick trip to the cafeteria for a fourth cup of coffee?
Catch a few winks in the break room?
Take a brisk walk around the block?
Turns out, none of these options prevent some workers from feeling guilty about stepping away from their desks, a new survey reveals, even though taking a short break often means greater productivity and job satisfaction.
More than one-fourth of respondents to a March survey of 200 customers by the office supply retailer Staples said they do not take a break during the workday other than for lunch, and 20 percent of those said it’s because they’d feel guilty about leaving their workstations.
Chris Correnti, general manager for Staples Facility Solutions at Staples Advantage, the business-to-business arm of the Massachusetts company, thinks those responses may not so much reflect guilt as much as people just being busier.
With the array of mobile devices available today, he said, it’s becoming harder to find a few minutes when a client or supervisor, or perhaps a family member, is not trying to reach you.
“It’s challenging for some people to take a step away because they feel the need to be as responsive as possible,” he said.
Certain jobs do require continuous connectivity, Mr. Correnti allowed, but that can be addressed with a more structured break schedule to ensure workers get a few minutes away while phone calls still get answered promptly.
The payoff, he said, is a healthier workplace and happier, more productive workers.
Employers, too, said they think that taking short breaks is a good idea.
Mr. Correnti said employers needn’t fear that employees will take advantage of a policy of encouraging breaks if they understand how it benefits both themselves and the company. “It’s a win-win.”
A well-furnished, well-stocked break room seems to be key, as 58 percent of the respondents said that would encourage employees to take breaks and 76 percent said a break room would relieve stress and help them unwind.
The result for workplaces, said Mr. Correnti, “could change the culture.”
Steve Twedt: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1963.