How do remote workers find downtime while working from home during COVID-19?

How are remote workers balancing work from home life? Are we getting enough breaks while working from home?
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Many Americans have had enough stress during 2020 -- with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and adjusting to working from home and concern that our employers have installed remote monitoring software on our devices. Now we have another worry to contend with: When to take a break during the day.

West Chester, Penn.-based Invoicing and accounting software provider Skynova surveyed 1,165 professionals including almost 400 managers via Amazon Mechanical Turk , who are currently working from home. It wanted to find out about their work break habits since making the transition to working from home.

SEE: Working from home: The future of business is remote (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Working from home: How to get remote right (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The survey showed that before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the average employee took four breaks at work throughout the day, with under one in four (23%) people reporting more than five breaks during their in-office workday.

In contrast, those polled indicated taking five breaks from work, on average, since the pandemic began, and over one in three (34%) people now take more than five breaks.

Almost two in five (37.7%) notify their co-workers when taking a break at home and 35.5% notify their manager too. Over one in four (28.1%) notify their team via Slack, and 28% tell nobody at all.

Employees reported taking the most work breaks on Friday 23.9% falling to 7.7% who reported taking the most work breaks on Tuesday (7.7%).

On Mondays employees took the least work breaks (21.4%). Respondents reckoned that six breaks per day was the highest number acceptable.

However, over one in three (35.4%) remote employees worry their manager will judge them for taking breaks while working from home.

Nearly one in four remote employees felt they can never take a break while working from home, and seven in 10 people felt encouraged by their boss or job to take breaks while working from home

Around one in six managers didn't encourage their team to take breaks while working remotely. Overall, 15% of remote employees are afraid to take breaks at work amid the pandemic.

How do remote workers find downtime whilst working from home during COVID-19 zdnet

So what do we do when we take a break? Almost two in three (65.2%) eat, 59% drink coffee or tea, and 38.8% walk or jog. Sadly, one in 10 (10.2%) reported screaming during their breaks.

Although lunch breaks do not seem to be used as much as in the past with employees taking smaller breaks instead throughout the day -- it is important to take a break.

People who reported skipping their lunch break were twice as likely to report feeling stressed or burnout from work.

Instead of taking two or three breaks throughout the workday, most new remote employees are taking five breaks a day (or more) to feel more energized and focused at their jobs.

Taking time to take a break is more important than ever. use your spare moments wisely. 

Whether watching TV, working out, reading, or even taking a nap, make sure that you take the time to take a break to be as productive as possible -- whenever you are working -- from wherever you are.

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