Why you want empty chairs in the office

Why you want empty chairs in the office


Your people might feel guilty for leaving their desks, but taking a short break every now and then can actually help them win at work.

Taking breaks at work doesn’t come naturally

We all know how it is: you start the day with the best of intentions of blasting through everything on your to-do list. You’re all-powerful and that in-tray WILL be empty by 5.30pm.

And then it turns out a project requires some extra time… and a super-urgent issue needs action right now. A few hours in, and finding the time to take a break seems impossible, which ramps up the stress of your day.

It’s the same for your people.

Only one in three people say they take a lunch break, and the other two-thirds either eat at their desks (leading to crumbs-in-the-keyboard syndrome) — or don’t eat at all.

And yet the science says, ‘take five’

Stepping away from work for two minutes gives people time to stand and stretch, and even to check Facebook (yes, keeping up with their social media helps, too).

Turns out, taking even the shortest of breaks increases productivity. Microbreaks of between 30 seconds and five minutes can boost your people’s brain power by 13 per cent. And if they can build in regular breaks of two minutes, their productivity will increase by more than a tenth.

The perfect excuse

Sometimes we need a reason to make time for a break, to justify to our work brain that it’s okay to take a few minutes off. And this may well be something you need to encourage.

Well, once they’ve got the message, popping over to their 24 is a fantastic reason for your people to step away from their desk every now and then.

Regular breaks are the perfect time for your people to get the food and drink they need, offering a stretch of the legs and something tasty to help them power through the rest of the day.

So, if you spot an empty desk or two, give yourself a pat on the back: you’re doing it right.