Work breaks: Are they necessary?

September 23, 2008 9:45:58 PM PDT
The superworker stays glued in his chair for 12 hours at a stretch. Meals are protein bars stowed away in his desk. Bathroom breaks? Mr. Company First runs to the bathroom and back.

Walks outdoors are out of the question. Office coffee, not Starbucks runs, are the norm.

All wrong, says Dave Willmer, executive director of staffing company OfficeTeam.

"Most people and most executives would say you tend to be more efficient if you break your day down, as opposed to working an entire day straight," Willmer said. "You're able to remain a little bit more focused."

While a 30-minute or 45-minute lunch break in the middle of the day is nice, many people can't manage that, Willmer said. That's OK. Taking a five-minute break or a short walk, optimally outside, once every three hours, can be enough. Doing so helps refocus concentration, physically re-energizes the body, and helps bring down stress, he said. All that helps increase productivity.

Willmer also pointed out that eating lunch alone at your desk could make you miss out on a chance to network and improve your working relationships with colleagues.