I'm a former startup consultant turned digital media planner based in Brooklyn, NY. Here, I share opinions on the workplace, my love for food and travel, and crowdsource advice/lessons for valuable discussions.

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Flipping the Switch: Who Is Responsible for Getting Employees to Take a Break?

This Knowledge article from UPenn speaks to the need for more downtime, breaks, and off switch in the work place. Though it’s not rocket science what the authors point out, in fact many of these tips are pretty obvious, there’s still a great divide in office culture and employers’ understanding of the benefits of taking time off. We (American employees) still don’t even get that much vacation time, which to me, is insulting. Here’s some excerpts I wanted to share with you in hopes that you’ll make small, but significant improvements in your daily work flow:

Radical idea: 

staff at Volkswagen will be limited to only receiving emails on their devices from half an hour before they start work until half an hour after they leave for the day, and will be in blackout mode the rest of the time.

From Stewart Friedman, a Wharton practice professor of management,

we are starting the process of learning how to create useful boundaries that allow us to pay attention to the things that matter, when they matter. Organizations and schools need to help people learn how to manage those boundaries [between work and home] themselves, and train people to stem the deluge of data that threatens to drown us. People can learn to shut things off. It’s not easy, and it requires dedicated effort.

This means better communication both internally and externally in the office. 

Nancy Rothbard, a Wharton management professor continues, 

People feel this constant need to be connected. There’s no priority structure. Everything is urgent. Everything is red flagged. Yes, there are advantages to having these technologies — we can work more flexibly, and we can respond to crises more speedily. But there are disadvantages that we are underestimating.

How many times have you been glued to your Twitter stream reading tweets from the night before because you’re afraid you’ve missed some huge news or important article? We need to take a breather from these processes, rest our minds and create better work flows that keep us stimulated and engaged without becoming overwhelmed.

Jennifer Sabatini Fraone, assistant director of the Boston College Center for Work & Family, talks about disconnecting,

Being able to disconnect from work has great benefits to your health and productivity. The issue is not so much the calls or emails after hours: It is whether or not you have control over your time. If you do not have autonomy about when you are able to switch off and on, it causes stress.

Or, you could just move abroad:

Last month, Brazil introduced a law requiring companies to pay overtime to workers who make or receive work phone calls or emails outside of office hours.

Who’s responsible for making sure we take time off?

It’s the boss who should be saying: ‘We’re better if we are not working all weekend long.’ Companies should say: ‘If we give people their weekends, we get their weekdays,’” he says. “Part of the solution is figuring out how you approach work, and how you approach integrating family. This is where the importance of ground rules — and sticking to them — comes into play.

The point I want to get across in sharing this article, especially for those job searching and the others who are self-employed like me, is that your work environment is critical to your productivity and happiness. Read these tips from WECREATE on keeping focus, taking breaks, and being creative:

Winter Blues / The Posture for Creativity / Learn to Hurry Slowly

Happy working!