While working remotely saves a lot of time that would otherwise have been lost in commuting between office and home, a huge drawback of this new work culture is the innumerable virtual meetings that people have to endure without a break. A new study has again emphasised the importance of short breaks during the day. The research, conducted by Microsoft’s Human Factors Lab, is being cited by leading professionals to highlight the message that it is imperative for people working remotely to take short breaks during work to improve brain function and productivity.
Steph Smith works as a senior analyst at The Hustle news outlet. On her personal website, she says she loves working remotely and has also written about it on her blog. The photograph she tweeted is from the Microsoft research that shows improved brain function when one takes short breaks.
If you weren’t convinced of Zoom fatigue yet, Microsoft’s Human Factors Lab measured brain activity of workers in 4 back-to-back meetings.
Without breaks, lots of stress.
This is your friendly reminder to Marie Kondo your calendar.
???? less stress
???? more stress pic.twitter.com/GKYvWn47pc
— Steph Smith (@stephsmithio) April 22, 2021
The research measured brain activity of workers in four meetings, and mapped differences when they took short breaks and when they did not. It showed stress levels increased during back-to-back meetings, suggesting that the participants were withdrawn, or less engaged, in the meeting, but remained stable when they had mediation breaks.
A lot of people agreed with the findings and expressed their support on Twitter.
“Yes. Please stop the back-to-back calendar flexes,” commented Bryant Suellentrop on Smith’s post.
YES please stop the back to back calendar flexes.
— Bryant Suellentrop (@SullyBusiness) April 22, 2021
Another user went a step further to suggest that people should open windows and get sunlight into their workspace during the short breaks.
Would also add… get some sunlight during those breaks, + open the windows during meetings/breaks.
— GKT (@garethkthomas) April 22, 2021
Michael Bohan, senior director of Microsoft’s Human Factors Engineering group, who oversaw the project, said their research showed breaks are important to make one feel less exhausted and also to improve the ability to focus and engage during such meetings.
Jared Spataro, CVP, Microsoft 365, said the back-to-back meetings “that have become the norm” over the past year due to the pandemic are not sustainable.
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