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Well-timed ‘microbreaks’ can be ‘golden’ for workers: study

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Raleigh, NC — Some people may believe that colleagues who step away from their desks are avoiding work, but the results of a recent study conducted by researchers from North Carolina State University show short breaks actually can help boost productivity and manage energy.

The researchers conducted two separate surveys, one involving 98 U.S. workers and the other 222 workers in South Korea. Respondents completed the surveys multiple times a day for five or 10 consecutive workdays, answering questions related to sleep quality, fatigue and work engagement.

Respondents who arrived at work tired were more inclined to take voluntary “microbreaks” to snack, chat with colleagues, stretch or work on word puzzles. However, these activities helped them maintain energy – enhancing their ability to more effectively engage with work and meet demands.

“A five-minute break can be golden if you take it at the right time,” Sophia Cho, study co-author and an assistant professor of psychology at North Carolina State, said in a press release.


Cho said study results also show that “it is in a company’s best interest to give employees autonomy in terms of taking microbreaks when they are needed – it helps employees effectively manage their energy and engage in their work throughout the day.”

The study was published online March 3 in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

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