Posts tagged ‘minibreaks’

5 Productivity and Motivation Misconceptions Your Boss Believes Are (Not) True

The Truths Behind the Rules

This is not employee motivation.

It’s been a long held belief that, on the broad spectrum, if something is entertaining then it is distracting. From radios to the internet, the workplace has always been a place of…well, work. Rules such as “No Facebooking” or “No music outside of break” have been implemented for supposed reasons such as to increase productivity or maintain employee motivation. Supervisors will tell their employees that such things do nothing but distract from the report that needs to be filled out or from the project that needs to be done. I disagree. Correction: we at WorkMeter disagree.

We have found the top 4 misconceptions in regards to employee productivity and motivation in the workplace and are posting them here. We even tossed in a little surprise as #1 misconception.

#5 Multitasking Does (Not) Get Things Done Faster

Working on a couple of things is ok. Bouncing every 30 minutes between 10 tasks is not. We all have multiple things going on in our office and it is impossible for us to be doing only one thing at a time. WorkMeter has done the research: it takes about 12 minutes to fully concentrate on any single task. That being said, we are interrupted every 96 SECONDS, be it internal interruptions, such as stray thoughts, or external interruptions, such as a person speaking to you. Minimize the amount you do in any single time. Work in hour intervals between 2 of your upcoming deadlined projects. Keep it few and you will find yourself accomplishing more in less time.
This is a Harvard Business Review article regarding much the same thing.

#4 Taking Online Breaks and Socializing Does Increase Motivation

Online shopping, facebooking, even taking to the guy in the cubical next over is enough to kill the monotony and allow you to start fresh. Employees sometimes need to step back and just stop for a little bit. It could be stress, it could be an issue they don’t see a way around, or it could be just an urge to get up and take a little walk for a couple of minutes. Often times, in jobs on computers, this relaxation is seen in the form of net surfing, a huge taboo in the corporate world. Seen as large time-suck vacuums, many offices forbid their employees from accessing social sites such as Reddit or YouTube, regardless of being shown that they do quite the contrary.
A study done by the University of Singapore proved that Internet surfing, socializing, taking a walk, all of these things and their like serve the purpose of clearing the mind and allowing fresh thoughts and ideas come through, so when work is resumed 5 or 10 minutes later, it’s done with greater motivation and, many times, with better results.
To get a better understanding, see this related post and study.

#3 Working Longer Does (Not) Increase Productivity

Work Productivity
Contrary to popular belief,
this isn’t the productivity award you
want to be winning.

Simply put, staying and working long past your dead zone helps no one. In fact, it hurts. Overtime tends to be a way that managers and supervisors squeeze the extra work out of employees in order to cover an impending deadline or debug a sudden error close to launch, and that isn’t too big of an issue. But when the norm of the workplace becomes 55 and 60 hour weeks, both productivity and motivation will begin to decline. Studies have even shown them to decline exponentially when overtime is pushed week after week.

For a more detailed look at the effects of overtime, check out last weeks post.

#2 Privacy Comes at the Cost of Productivity

Many corporations sacrifice the privacy of their employees in order to maintain an “efficient and productive workforce”. Naturally, Human Resources is there to defend what little privacy right the employees have left. Yet this doesn’t have to be the case as it’s been proven that privacy and productivity can coexist, and WorkMeter itself is a testament to that.
An employer doesn’t need to know the specifics of what an employee is doing on the computer (as long as it isn’t illegal). All they need to know is whether or not they’ve been, or are being, productive. By using productivity software to record and compare the amount of time spent on productive programs in comparison to non-productive programs, they get their answer. An employee spending 2 hours of productive and 6 on non-productive is obviously wasting time, regardless of what those non-productive applications are. Privacy preserved, productivity gauged.
For more on how you can maintain a productive environment without seeming like Big Brother, check this out.

And the top misconception is….

#1 Maroon 5 (or Music in general) Does Boost Output and Moral

Yes, you read right. Half the respondents in a study done by Songza agreed that Maroon 5 makes them more productive at work. But more importantly, MusicWorks released their own study indicating that 1/3 of employees are less likely to take sick days if background music is playing in the office, given that the Confederation of British Industry estimated roughly 21 million working days lost to illegitimate absences each year. As well, they reported that 77% of people were happier with music playing in the workplace than not. The link is simple: music leads to an increase in motivation and moral which leads to increases in productivity and performance.

June 5, 2012 at 5:46 pm 2 comments

Minibreaks: When Not Working Means Working

Earlier this week, we discussed the downside of having those monthly updates. The IT guys coming in, trying to find the right software, getting it installed, and having it work all in the first try is wishful thinking. Productivity end up taking a hit and your time management goes down the drain. But I had left you off with a cliff hanger: given these unproductive moments updates leave us with, how can we turn it to our advantage? The answer is simple: minibreaks.
Wrong kind of productivity minibreak
(Image owned by Kellogg’s)

Long Breaks v. Minibreaks

Minibreaks are exactly what they sound like. They’re short breaks throughout the day in which the body rejuvenates its energy, unburdens its stress, and recuperates its focus to resume work one the minibreak is over. Now the conventional workplace has the concept of “breaks” down, but they utilize it in a large sense, i.e. in your nine to five job, you get one large break, which is your lunch period. To employers, this seems enough to keep employee productivity and motivation up, as it is set in the middle of the day and it recharges your batteries. A study done in 2011, entitled Cognition by Atsunori Ariga and Alejandro Lleras of the University of Illinois (linked here), proved that this simply isn’t true.

Burn in Before You Burn Out

Time outs is time management
Minibreaks are just work time outs
Ariga and Lleras’ work led them to discover that short breaks throughout the day are drastically more beneficial to maintaining focus and employee motivation than a single large burst. The effect of a break quickly reaches a point of diminishing returns, in which the employees are no longer benefiting and are then simply wasting time. Instead, keeping these breaks small and plentiful throughout the day (such as 5 or 10 minutes every hour), is enough to give the brain a momentary rest for it to come back more productive than before. As well, these minibreaks provide time for the subconscious to work on any problem solutions that might be eluding the employee, further hindering their motivation. But that’s for another day.

Where do Updates Come In?

By now, I’m pretty sure you can see how updates can benefit instead of hinder. They are just another minibreak for the employee to take. Instead of stressing about the halt in their time management, it has become a moment for them to pause and recover before resuming their productivity.

April 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm


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