Why downtime is good for employee engagement

Should work be all work? Or is there some room for play, relaxation and "creative" slacking? We take a look.

benefits of downtime - Workplace from Meta

You may have heard the proverb, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". And in the modern workplace, where ideas and creativity are the lifeblood of many organisations, dullness is the opposite to the sharp, switched-on and engaged employees companies need.

Untangle work with Workplace

From informing everyone about the return to the office to adopting a hybrid way of working, Workplace makes work more simple.

There's a general attitude that longer hours and faster work produces better results. But this notion rests on the expectation that workers' resources are infinite.

The reality is that workers can push themselves to the limit to get work done quickly which can have a negative effect on them and the organisation.

82% of US workers say that having the opportunity to work flexibly increases employee satisfaction. And 80% say that a more relaxed approach to when and where they work increases their productivity and creativity.

This suggests that finding smarter ways of working should be higher on the business agenda.

Why less can be more

Why less can be more

According to author Brigit Schulte, being overworked or feeling too pressured at work can cause medical problems along with a slump in productivity. The brain, says Schulte, is at its most creative when it's completely relaxed [1].

Perhaps this is why successful ad exec Luke Sullivan believes in a stress-free approach.

In his guide to great ads, Hey Whipple, Squeeze This, he writes that after receiving an important client brief, the art director and the copywriter on the account would simply take it easy.

A process that involved little more than discussing trivialities such as their favourite films and heading out for an early lunch.

The fact is, Sullivan says, that when a problem needs solving with creative and dynamic thinking, the brain simply shuts down when put under too much pressure.

Smarter ways of working

Smarter ways of working

There are plenty of companies creating better ways of working that help to increase employee satisfaction, engagement, creativity and productivity.

Organisations are offering people perks and benefits that encourage them to take a break. Free gym memberships, bigger holiday allowances and social events that give space for a bit of out-of-office time.

Offering employees such benefits allows for "strategic renewal". Something that Schulte says is paramount to maintaining a healthy relationship between a company and its employees because it builds satisfaction and nurtures a great work ethic.

How to feed creativity

How to feed creativity

Here are some things you can do to help take the strain off your team from time to time so they can feel their best and give their best:

  • Use technology to collaborate. The right tools can help people exchange ideas and work on the latest creative draft. Tools in Workplace, for example, enable teams to arrange HD video calls with multiple members and work and share on documents and files in real time
  • Eat together. Even one day a week, provide snacks and treats and encourage people to get together away from their desks. This will help them relax, chat and maybe bounce a few ideas off each other
  • Encourage regular breaks. Many people can't concentrate on one thing for more than a couple of hours. So rather than implementing strict one-hour lunch breaks, allow team members to take more regular, shorter breaks throughout the day if it makes them feel more productive
  • Work from home Wednesdays. OK, it doesn't have to be a Wednesday. But encourage people to work from home at least one day a week. Freedom from the commute and the opportunity to work at home are easy ways to increase employee satisfaction and help the creative juices flow

Keep reading

[1] Overwhelmed: Work, love and play when no one has the time, Brigit Schulte

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