Some weeks ago I wrote about the benefits being completely disconnected from the ‘grid’ while on vacation [see my post entitled ‘Mind-wandering‘ on September 3rd, 2014]. What one of my colleagues has called going on a ‘deep vacation’. For most of us our vacation, deep or otherwise, is a distant memory by now and, for many, the demands on our time far exceed the available time. The temptation to work continuously is huge, particularly with smart phones delivering messages from our co-workers and bosses at all hours of the day and night. Recent research has shown that if we want to be happy and productive then we should resist this temptation. A survey of nearly 12,000 white-collar workers found that people feel worse and become less engaged when they work continuously and especially when they work more than 40 hours per week. By contrast workers who take a break every 90 minutes were more focussed (reportedly 30% more) and more able to think creatively (50% more). The survey also found that being encouraged by your supervisor to take a break increases by 100% the likelihood that you will stay with an employer and also doubles your sense of well-being and health. Perhaps this is why Daimler encourage the equivalent of ‘deep weekends’ by automatically returning and then deleting emails sent to employees while they are off-duty.
These findings tie in with research in psychology reported by Oppezzo and Schwartz that suggests creativity is implicated in workplace success, healthy psychological functioning and the maintenance of loving relationships. While Martin and Schwartz assert that creativity is ‘an important cognitive dimension of both mundane and specialized forms of problem-solving’.
Engineers are creative problem-solvers so make sure yours stays successful, healthy and loving by encouraging them to take breaks and work less than 40 hours per week.
Why you hate work! By Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath in the New York Times on May 30, 2014:
Oppezo, M., & Schwartz, D.L., 2014, ‘Give your ideas some legs: the positive effect of walking on creative thinking’, J. Experimental Psychology, Learning, Memory & Cognition, 40(3):1142-1152.
Martin, L., & Schwartz, D., 2014, ‘A pragmatic perspective on visual representation and creative thinking’, Visual Studies, 29(1):80-93.
End the tyranny of 24/7 email. By Clive Thompson in the New York Times on August 28th, 2014