A study from 2021 proves that moving directly from one meeting to the next increases employee stress and reduces performance. The brain must first complete a task and find a distance before it can efficiently devote itself to other topics.

Top tips: 

  • Take a 10-minute break between different video calls or other meetings. This is also essential to prevent burnout. 
  • Also take breaks between different mental tasks, office work. 
  • Reframing: Value breaks away from the computer as an important part of your working day.
  • Break content is activity that relaxes your mind and takes your attention away from work and focuses on something you find relaxing. This can be short relaxation exercises, fantasy journeys, short walks in the countryside. 
  • It is also good to insert demanding physical activities of 2-4 minutes between tasks and meetings, which bring the pulse up to 110 beats (see https://eagles.webseiten-werkstatt.eu/blog/sitzpause/).
  • Plan meetings consciously with discussion points and a short summary at the end. In doing so, motivate as many meeting participants as possible to actively participate. 


Take a break
Caption: For those who received breaks, the average beta wave activity associated with stress remained largely constant over time; the low level of stress is visualised here in shades of blue and green. For those who did not receive breaks, average beta wave activity increased over time, indicating an increase in stress; this increase is visualised here with a colour shift from cool to hot. Illustration by Valerio Pellegrini
Mach Pause2
Legend: According to the study, those employees who took regular breaks showed a positive asymmetry in their engagement. This means that their engagement increased over the course of the working day. Employees who did not take breaks, on the other hand, were found to have a negative asymmetry, meaning that their engagement decreased over the course of the day and they tended to withdraw. Illustration by Valerio Pellegrini

Here is a summary of the study: 

The study was conducted by the Microsoft Human Factors Lab and took place between 8 and 18 March 2021. A total of 14 people who participated in video conferences while wearing electroencephalogram (EEG) devices to monitor the electrical activity in their brains were studied. The participants were Microsoft and non-Microsoft employees from the US who worked in the information industry and usually worked remotely. The study consisted of two different blocks of sessions in which each participant took part. In the first session, half of the participants took part in a series of four half-hour sessions, while the others had four half-hour sessions interspersed with 10-minute breaks during which participants meditated using the Headspace app. The following week, the groups were swapped so that each participant went through both conditions. Each 30-minute meeting was accompanied by three to four additional non-EEG volunteers to create a variation of participants working together to complete the assigned tasks. The tasks varied and included, for example, designing an office layout or creating a marketing plan. It is important to note that Headspace was not involved in the planning or implementation of the study.

Here is the link: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/worklab/work-trend-index/brain-research

See also book: Liem, Tsolodimos: