Tea break boosts work productivity

Is it Really Bad to Have Tea Breaks at Work? (Here’s the Answer)

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A Team Ritual

Recalling those days when I was still doing audit. There were days when I saw school buses passing by my car after I left the office in the morning. Days when I got confused between the day and night. And there were no weekends, the week just never ends.

What was new? There was never a plan B apart from meeting the tight deadlines. All day long, we were deeply engrossed in our work, tying out numbers, questioning clients or rummaging for documents. 

With unfailing regularity during the late afternoon, one of them kept yawning and trying hard to keep his eyes open. Another one was scratching his head and looked confuddled.The one sitting beside me started mumbling to herself, “I’m hungry. I want donuts.” I whispered to her, “Shh…Look at him. He’s staring at the blank laptop screen!”

It was a sign. Tick-Tock…Tick-Tock… “Guys! It’s time for a TEA break!” I shouted. Everyone suddenly looked awake and started grinning to themselves. A short break that everyone had always been looking forward to in any particular day. 

“Let’s go!”

That was the team ritual that I’d been preaching since day one. And there was also an unbroken rule that I’d set for my team. No one from my team shall ever miss the TEATIME!

The Recipe of Working Productively – Take a Break 

Most employees, if not all, always chain themselves to their workstations for long hours. Especially if you’ve unreasonable deadlines or never-ending work schedules. Or maybe, if you’re working for exceptionally demanding bosses, there’s more pressure than ever to deliver.

Those who always take a tea break at work are commonly perceived as slackers. Probably the co-workers don’t see it that way, but it’s definitely not a habit that all employers are happy about. The work culture naturally induces guilt in the person who is genuinely looking for a short break to rejuvenate.

A tea break at work can do wonders. Aha? You don’t have to agree with me. But keep reading.

Based on scientific and empirical research, having a short break at work comes with various benefits, to both employees and employers. Now, let me walk you through the main benefits of having a tea break at work.

1. Reduces stress levels

When you get bogged down with a difficult task at work, undeniably you will be stressed out after long hours. Certainly, text messages and emails from your boss constantly asking about progress is not helping.

Under excessive pressure and stress, you’ll never be able to produce quality work. If you’re continuously overwhelmed with work without taking adequate breaks, eventually you’ll get a burnout.

A tea break helps relax your brain and give you a chance to take a breather. It refreshes your mind and keeps you calm. You may be surprised to find that the issues that you’ve been stressing about won’t break the bank. 

A tea break helps you relieve stress and drives you forward.

2. Increases creativity

There may be times when you get stuck on a problem. It’s not funny when it quickly drains your brain and energy. It could make you feel irritated and hopeless.

A tea break can get your creativity juices flowing without you realizing it. 

It may not be necessarily a tea break. Personally, I got self-inspired with new ideas a few times when I was just answering the call of nature. There was once my junior couldn’t solve a problem and he came to me as his last resort. 

I told him jokingly, “You might find your answer in the gents.” Oops…That was mean.

Have you ever experienced that you were facing an unresolved conundrum for a gazillion years, and later on you found the answer magically in a split second after a lull in your work? 

That’s the power of having a short break. A tea break could help you get a new perspective and ideas to solve a problem at hand.

3. Improves concentration and helps you re-focus

At times, you may find it extremely difficult to focus on a specific task that you’re working on. Worse still, you start to daydream or unconsciously zone out. And after spending half a day, you realize that you’ve achieved nothing!

As much as we want to keep ourselves focus for long working hours, unfortunately, our brains are not built to cope with such task. The good news is a tea break can help reboot your concentration. You’ll find it much easier to re-focus after clearing your mind and a re-charge with a short tea break.

You may be surprised with the breakthroughs out of nowhere.

4. Keeps you healthy

Based on medical research, long sedentary time is proven to deteriorate your health. CNN reported a study that sitting too long can kill you, even if you exercise.

Constantly spending hours sitting poses a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, just to name a few. A tea break helps you reduce the negative health effects with some physical movements.

Even if you’re not a big fan of coffee or tea, take a short break to walk around or stretch yourself. It can relieve your eyestrain and stimulate blood circulation, thus keeping you healthy at work.

5. Improves bonding and communication

A tea break also improves your networking and bonding with your colleagues at work through social interaction. 

Just think about it. When you’ve a job with extremely long working hours just like mine as an auditor previously, the time that you spend with your colleagues is far more than with your parents, husband or wife and kids collectively. 

You can either share your personal stuff or just bit*h about the common nasty client together. Whatever it is, a 5-10 minutes conversation during a tea break will definitely help foster a better working relationship among the team members.

Not only it keeps you happier at work, it also boosts the team’s morale thus improving the team productivity. 

My Personal Experience

Though I’ve left the firm, if you ask me what’s the thing that I miss the most at work, perhaps, the only answer is – teatime with my teams.

Throughout the years, I’ve worked with many different teammates with different backgrounds, races and religions. A tea break was the only time that brought us all together. 

Tea break
Teatime at Pulp, Bangsar. Photo by Aizat.

One of my all-time favourite photos taken during my teatime. It was taken by my junior, a part-time photographer working as a full-time auditor. Auditor + Photographer? Much respect! 

Dinner at Nutmeg, Bangsar. Photo by Aizat.

When you realize that your second half of the day only kick-starts after 6 pm. Perhaps, a dinner break would be the session that you look forward to the most in any particular day. 

And when your teammate asks you this at 12 am, “Bro, want a cuppa? I’m going to make a cup of Nescafe.” That’s how you define teamwork.

Final Thoughts

Having a tea break no doubt is the most effective way for me to beat the midday slump at work.

Over and above, when your colleagues are more than just colleagues at work, having a tea break together makes you feel that a lifeless job may not be so lifeless after all.

Now, start walking out with a puffy-chest to take a tea break. When you feel guilty about it, think about the benefits. When your bosses give you a cold stare, educate them the benefits of having a tea break at work.

(P.S. If I were to set up a company one day, I’m going to mandate scheduled tea breaks as my company policy.)

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