Working from home can be a challenge and taking breaks is a must. Recording your breaks is also important both for you and for your employer. It helps you to keep track of the hours worked and of overtime.
Working from home 101
No matter if you are working from home because of the pandemic or because you choose to, due to personal preference, there are certain aspects that you need to clarify to maintain a good work/personal life balance.
Breaks are one of the essential parts of working from home. You would probably think that they are not as important as the actual work, but the absence of breaks can lead to many problems.
Let’s take a look at why taking breaks when working from home is so important.
Too much work means too little efficiency
Contrary to popular belief, maintaining your concentration on something for too long can have negative effects on your attention, your ability to multitask and on your overall work productivity.
This happens because our brains get bored when doing the same thing. Even if it is extremely interesting, you will lose focus if you don’t take a break.
In this study, you can read about the benefits on micro breaks (a few seconds to a few minutes), on attention. You will find that simply getting up and getting a cup of coffee can massively improve your attention.
To be fair, you could just go to the kitchen, you don’t need to walk all the way to Starbucks.
Not stopping could mean that you will get hurt
This might not sound right, unless you are a professional driver. Sitting down at your desk, typing and answering calls can translate into you sitting in a position that puts pressure on your spine, your hips, your neck and your shoulders.
You will probably say that this also happens when you go to the office.
It does, but in the office you take breaks that are meant to keep you healthy. Simply being at home, won’t protect you from injuries.
The underrated one hour lunch break
There are those who love the lunch break and those who hate it. People who hate it usually want to be done quicker and wrap up the day.
However, there is evidence that the middle of the day break is extremely important and it can increase productivity and promote creativity and mental well-being.
Working from home and family life
From my own experience, and from the complaints of many professionals who work from home, maintaining a family/work balance is extremely difficult.
Difficult doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, but it does mean that you must think about it in advance.
What does taking breaks have to do with your family?
Well, people who work from home tend to not take it easy. In fact, we get the impression that just because we are working from the comfort of our own house, we don’t need a break at all.
This happens because we transform the break from work into doing some housework. Even if this is an actual break, from the employer point of view, and it should be recorded, you are still working.
If you were in the office, you wouldn’t run home to do the dishes, right? You would enjoy your coffee and chat with your colleagues.
This is exactly what you need to do when you work from home and you must get this message across to your family.
Recording breaks when working from home
Every company has a different policy when it comes to recording breaks.
Some employers don’t require it at all. They just want their employees to do a good job, finish the day’s workload, no matter how many breaks they take.
Other employers want to know everything and how every minute is used.
Depending on the employer and what your job entitles, you can use different strategies.
Let’s take a look at some scenarios and how to approach them.
The always satisfied employer
If your employer never requires you to account for your time, you might be inclined to not record your breaks.
However, it is very important to do it. This way you know how efficient you are being, what works for you and you also remember to actually take a break.
Furthermore, you can never be sure that your employer will maintain his good will on the long term. Keeping a record can save you from a lot of trouble if things go south in your company.
The technical employer
Some employers will want you to use software, to input your hours or to log in when you start and log off when you take a break.
This is a very straight-forward method of recording your breaks, and is useful both to you and to your employer.
Just make sure not to forget to log in and to log off (this tends to happen a lot). Put a sticker on your desktop to help you remember.
The basic employer
Most employers don’t invest in software and in training their employees how to use it.
However, they still want and need to know how you spend your time.
This information is useful to them for productivity reasons but also for legal reasons. In some states, California is an example, employees must use their lunch break without interacting with work in any way.
So, if you live in California, and your work phone rings while you are eating lunch, you shouldn’t even look at it. Better yet, you should silence it when you are on your break.
The best way to keep track of your breaks when there is no software available would be to create a table in a Google Document, and share that document with your employer.
This way you both have access to information, but you can adjust the settings in such a way that you would be the only one who will edit the document.
No matter how you will be recording your breaks, remember that stopping work and taking a few minutes or more for yourself is as important as working and it is beneficial for everyone.