Homeworker? Break it to make it
Working from home? Take your break
Workers need breaks. Fact. In the bricks and mortar world, big business insists that employees take their breaks, not because they have big hearts, but rather because they want fat bank accounts. Science has proven that you get more out of a person if they take some time away from doing their job every day.
Home workers, like the rest of you, often work really hard for little pay. Home workers, unlike the rest of you, are often forced to put in loads of extra unpaid hours on top. Due to our isolation, we are often our own HR Department, IT Specialist, Timekeeper, Health and Safety Officer, QC and secretary. Got training? Well, nobody is going to tap you on the shoulder five minutes before hand because….. Well, there isn’t anybody. Need information? It’s all there, somewhere on the website or in your email, so if you want/need it, you must go and find it. Things take longer, there is no Manager’s door to knock on for a quick chat or decision. Feeling fragile? Tough. There is nobody around to notice your red eyes, pale face, sunburn or to bring you a brew because they can see you having an off day.
Despite all of this, friends and family seem to honestly believe that because we work from home, we are available to cover for them at the drop of a hat. They GET that we are working, but they know we are also at HOME. As such, receiving parcels, covering their schools runs, taking their dog to vet and babysitting the unwell “he really is no problem” little Johnny should be easy. For most of us, these things are simply not possible. Why then, do so many of us squander our break time? It is the only time we get to be our own buddy, and tend to ourselves.
Breaks. Tea breaks, lunch breaks, they are VITAL for home workers. Are you making the most of yours?
Many home workers work on the telephone, a computer, or both. The work is often repetitive and intense. Calls are back to back for hours on end, and everything is done live, on a terminal or computer. Contracts are often designed with clauses that meet bare legal requirements. Production is measured by the minute if not by the second, and terms can be very restrictive and heavily in the employers favour. It is common for lunch breaks to be unpaid, and for employers to dodge splurging even on the 15 minute paid tea break by ensuring that shifts stay within 6 hour blocks – The maximum the law allows without forcing them to finance a tea break. This is not a crit on the evils of the industry, there are many benefits to working from home. I am, however, trying to stress the importance of home workers leveraging their breaks to the full.
So how can we do this? We work at home, so the temptation to fill our breaks with housework and other chores is very real, assuming we can pry our butts off our office chair at all. When the (forced, unpaid) break time does come around, it’s very easy to get into the habit of spending it answering emails, paying bills, renewing the household insurance or doing other tasks that keep us in our office.
This is not good practice. It is neither healthy nor sensible. The science tells us that we need breaks to remain productive. If we don’t work, we don’t get paid. We cannot work if we become unwell. Home workers often suffer with eyestrain, migraines, muscle tension and circulation problems. Take control. You earned your precious break, and you need to spend this time wisely. Your work is measured by the second on a spreadsheet somewhere, so how can you allow your personal time to slip away from you? No! You, me – We are worth more than that.
It doesn’t matter how you invest in your breaks, it does matter that you take them for yourself. Eat something, drink something. Get away from the glare of the PC, move a little, stretch a lot. Try to arrange your chores around your working hours so that you too have a real break from work rather than switching from one job, to another, then rushing back to work. Save and savour your break time. Use it for things you enjoy, like walking the dog, nipping next door for a cuppa, watering the garden or dancing around the lounge.
Never forget, we work to live. Most jobs can be very restrictive, none more so than the kind of jobs that convert well to home working. So, max out on your breaks. Set your stopwatch, then get out of the office. Sing, dance, breathe, move. Have fun! It’s YOUR time – Enjoy it, you have earned it. (Yes, Bones – I did mention walking the dog…….)
How do you spend your break time?