Take a break: Great work experiences are essential Recess

Take a break: Great work experiences are essential

It can sometimes be difficult to let go of work. Work can become overwhelming, whether you work in an office setting or at your home. You can push a bit harder, keep pushing, and you will get the job done. Then you have more time to play. The work never stops and the breaks seem elusive.

Your function is affected by breaks. They are important for maintaining healthy boundaries and mood. A study in Current Biology even showed breaks improve memory. People who had taken breaks during learning showed a significant increase in the ability to remember key information and use it later.

We can take a lot of lessons from elementary schools when it comes to breaks. Intriguing research by Oregon State University (OSU) found key elements of recess contributed to children’s executive function (which controls things like decision making and judgment), to their social and emotional wellbeing and to their resilience and self-control.

So if we adults are just grown up children, it’s reasonable that we should need high quality recess as well–breaks are good for our brains, our happiness, our connections and our overall wellbeing.

Great Breaks

It is just as important to take breaks as it is to get the right quality breaks. Here are some ways you can create conditions that allow for positive results.

Safety and inclusion

Safe environments are essential. This element is hard to dispute. It has been one of the most important aspects of our experiences since the pandemic. The OSU study found that areas should be safe in order to provide benefit. A safe workplace is defined as one that is sensitive to local requirements and uses best practices to promote health and well-being.

A safe work environment means that people can feel secure and have the support of their colleagues.

Experiential excellence must include all. Inclusion is another element that makes a great experience. Organization cultures that allow people to fully contribute to the workplace are best. It is important to create inclusive environments that allow all people with different skills and talents to have access to leadership, opportunities to develop their careers, and recognition of their contributions. Inclusion-based spaces have the greatest impact on a wide range of people. Kat Holmes’ book Mismatch is an excellent resource.

Space and Tools

Space and tools must be available in an environment. Children can stretch out their wings in the open space provided by recess, which contributes to well-being. Great workplaces should provide both the space and tools needed to do the job and the opportunity to explore and experiment. A study by Brigham Young University showed when adults played games with colleagues, productivity increased by 20%. But a playful mindset also counts–experimenting, exploring and energizing in community with others–have positive effects on creativity and engagement. These are great examples of areas where people have the opportunity to make and hack, as well as connect in casual situations. Foosball or video games allow you to play literally, but it is the meaning that really matters. A culture of learning and respect and openness are great for both people and businesses.

Variety is a key aspect of experience. Positive recess experiences, which are in turn excellent work experiences, also include variety and choice. You can choose from swings, monkey bars, or hopscotch to enjoy different types of physical activities. These options can be adapted to suit different preferences, and stimulate various brain areas. The recess research can also be used in the workplace to allow people to have different settings and to recharge both individually and in groups. People will feel more fulfilled if they have access to a range of work places, whether it is to learn, focus or collaborate. These places have physical characteristics that allow people to choose freely. People feel free to pick the cafe at work for one-to-one meetings or go to an enclave to get some head-down work done.

Leadership and connections

Leadership is essential. A second aspect of recess research highlighted the importance leaders. This aspect of research on recess also revealed the importance leaders play in the workplace. Leaders should be positive with their employees, asking questions and providing them information. According to a study by Steelcase, when leaders are more present and accessible, employees have a greater sense of community and in turn, they are more likely to report higher productivity, engagement and innovation. They are also more likely to remain with the same employer.

It is important to build connections. Exploration, play and break times are all important in building community and connecting people. Research on recess showed that children who were more involved in active play with each other had less conflict. A separate study by the University of Washington, found when children spent time in synchronous activities such as swinging together, they tended to cooperate better later and be in synch for collaborative tasks later. The same principle can be applied to work. This break can have positive effects on relationships between colleagues and improve teamwork.


Breaks can be good for your brain, and your well-being. A good break will have key attributes that you can use at work or home. Although recess might seem like an old luxury, it is still relevant for grown-ups. It teaches us the value of taking breaks and how to get together to connect and recharge. When we’re at our best, we’ll not only feel better and be happier, but we’ll perform better, and this is good for us and good for our employers.

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