The importance of taking a break

With Coronavirus dominating 2020, Jan Hein-Hemke, Managing Director of Facilicom UK & Ireland, talks about the importance of taking a break in the final quarter of this unprecedented year.

2020 has been one of the most challenging years we have faced for a long time. From the major health concerns that came with COVID-19, to the drastic impact that lockdown had on our home and professional lives, this year has thrown us a real curveball.

Our day-to-day lives have been turned upside down, particularly when it comes to any sort of work-life balance – something many of us have strived to perfect over the years. With the economy struggling for many months, businesses have faced real challenges. Some staff have been furloughed, some have been working more hours than ever before on the frontline, and others have worked from home, juggling family life along the way.

Regardless of their working status, they all, most likely, have one thing in common: exhaustion. No one can deny the strain that the past six months have put us all under.

For those that have been working on the frontline – like nurses, cleaners, security guards and teachers – it has been relentless. Long hours and additional coronavirus procedures to follow have put key workers under immense pressure, with little respite.

Then there are those that have swapped the office environment for the home study or dining table. From ‘Zoom fatigue’ and modified communication with colleagues, to struggling to switch off and separate work from play, working from home can be difficult to navigate.

The stress and worry that comes with furlough also can’t be underestimated. Many who have taken this enforced leave of absence have been caring for family or home schooling their children for months. They’ve also had the constant worry about the future security of their job, as well as financial pressures. It’s been anything but a holiday for them.

Add to that the confinement of lockdown, and the thought of taking a ‘holiday’ may seem pointless to some. For many


months, restrictions have limited our travel options, and many have snubbed their usual annual leave allowance, hoping for the climate to improve before taking a break. This has left us a burnt-out nation.

At Facilicom, we have long championed the importance of taking a regular break from work. We have found that people who don’t take their holidays put themselves at risk of fatigue, whilst those that do, tend to be more productive and are better equipped to deal with stressful situations.

We’ve always proactively encouraged our colleagues to take advantage of their holiday allowance and just last year we took this a step further by trialling unlimited flexible holidays for all management and office staff. Of course, we still expect people to deliver their role, but we also trust them to fit it around taking a break. The two don’t have to be exclusive. We found that people were taking time off when it worked for them, whilst making sure that the job was done, or handed over effectively, before they left.

In current times, wellbeing is more important than ever, and taking a break plays a vital role in this. Management should be looking out for the signs of stress and encouraging colleagues to take a step back and rest. Not only will this protect their teams from potential long-term mental health complications, but also ensure that the workforce is happy and healthy when they return, ultimately making them more productive and committed to their role.

With uncertain times ahead, we can no longer afford to put off taking a break. We cannot let the pandemic stifle our responsibility as employers to ensure our colleagues retain a work-life balance. It’s time to recharge those batteries so we come back ready for whatever the rest of the year has to throw at us.

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