Why a great work experience should include recess

Sometimes it can be hard to get by. Whether you work in an office or at home, work can be time-consuming. If you press a little harder and keep going, you think you’ll pass and have time to play later. But the work keeps coming and the breaks are illusory.

Breaks, however, are essential to your function, contributing to healthy boundaries, mood and well-being. A study in Current biology even shown that breaks improve memory. Those who took breaks while learning saw a marked increase in their ability to remember key information and use it later.

When it comes to breaks, we can learn a lot from elementary schools. Intriguing search for Oregon State University (OSU) found that key elements of playtime contributed to children’s executive function (which controls things like decision-making and judgment), their social and emotional well-being, and their resilience and self-control.

So if we adults are just grown children, it’s only reasonable that we also need high-quality recess – breaks are good for our brains, our happiness, our relationships, and our general well-being.

Big Breaks

Taking breaks is as important as the quality of the breaks – and here’s how to create the conditions for the best breaks, which in turn lead to positive results.

Safety and inclusiveness

Environments must be safe. It’s hard to argue that this element of our experience has likely gone from one of the most taken for granted to one of the most primal since the pandemic. According to OSU research, areas must be safe to confer benefits. In the case of the workplace, a safe environment is one where attention is paid to regional requirements and best practices related to all elements of health and well-being – physical, cognitive and emotional.

Additionally, a safe environment is one where people feel a level of psychological safety, where they can trust their teammates to support them and follow through when relying on them to complete tasks or complete a project. .

The experience should be inclusive. Another element of a great experience, applying OSU data, is inclusivity. Most optimal are organizational cultures in which people are not only allowed, but embraced and encouraged, to devote themselves fully to work. Inclusive environments where all kinds of people, with all kinds of skills, talents, characteristics and strengths have opportunities in their work, access to leaders, chances to develop their careers, recognition of their unique contribution and a supportive and stimulating environment are essential. Spaces that feature inclusive design have the most positive impact for a wide range of people (check out the book, Mismatch, by Kat Holmes, which is a terrific resource on the subject).

Space and Tools

Environments must allow for space and tools. Recreations that contributed to well-being offered the space and equipment where children could stretch their wings. Likewise, large workplaces will ideally provide the tools to get the job done and a space to experiment and explore. A study of Brigham Young University showed that when adults played games with co-workers, productivity increased by 20%. But a playful mindset also matters – experimenting, exploring and energizing in community with others – has positive effects on creativity and engagement. Areas where people can connect with others in more casual settings, or where they can craft or hack are great examples. While the foosball and video game areas allow for literal play, it’s the meaning behind these that matters most – a culture of learning, respect, openness and fun – is very good for people and good for business.

The experience should offer variety. Other aspects of positive recreation experiences – and in turn great work experiences – are variety and choice. Choosing hopscotch, monkey bars or swings allows for different types of physical activity. The choices also accommodate multiple types of preferences and provide stimulation to various parts of the brain. Similarly, in workplaces, the ability for people to be in a variety of settings throughout the day and to recharge themselves and with others are good applications of recreation research. And when people also have a variety of places to work, whether they need to focus, collaborate, learn or socialize, they will be better served. In addition to the physical attributes of places that support them, there are cultures where people feel they have permission to make their choices freely – where they can select the work cafe for a one-on-one meeting or withdraw to an enclave if they need to. do headlong work.

Leadership and Relationships

Leadership is the key. Another aspect of recreation research has identified the importance of leaders. Applying this aspect of the study to the workplace, leaders should interact with employees in a positive way, asking questions, providing information, and acknowledging employee efforts. According to a study by Steel case, 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. Moreover, they are more likely to stay with their current employer.

Connections matter. Play, breaks and exploration are also valuable for building community and bonding. Recess research found that when children engaged in more active play together, conflict was reduced. A separate study of University of Washington, found that when children spent time in synchronous activities such as swinging together, they tended to cooperate better later and be in sync for collaborative tasks later. This also has an application in the workplace. The ability for colleagues to take a walking break together on campus or sync over lunch or coffee is a great example of a break that has positive ramifications for relationships and work. ensuing team.

In sum

Breaks are good for your brain and good for your well-being, and a good break has key characteristics that you can replicate at home or in the office. While playtime may seem like an old-world luxury, it’s also relevant to being an adult, because of what it teaches us about the importance of breaks and coming together to explore and energize. When we’re at our best, we not only feel better and happier, but we perform better, and that’s good for us and good for our employers.

Maria D. Ervin