Work-life boundaries are hard enough to maintain when you spend most of your waking hours at an office. Work from home, either as a freelancer or because of the pandemic, and they're bound to get demolished. Rather than being about need, much of that comes down to socialization, and it's long past time we let ourselves off the hook.
Psychologists at the UK's Staffordshire University have just published a study about lunch breaks and how often we skip them. While in England, workers are mandated a minimum 20-minute afternoon pause for a meal, more than 4 in 5 workers don't always take the break. Even those who do eat will do so at their desks, continuing to work without interruption.
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Furthermore, study participants reported feeling guilty when considering stopping work for a little bit to eat. A lot of that means that work culture is key to creating permission structures that let employees refresh and replenish, as is necessary. "We found that one of the best ways to make sure that you take breaks is to take them with your work colleagues, or to be encouraged to take them by your boss," said lead author Mike Oliver. "If they are not physically near you, we may find it harder to act on these social prompts."
Not having control over their own schedule is one of the easiest ways to stress a person into burnout. Even if your boss is watching you at home, for the good of yourself and the company, make it clear that your employer's needs come first only up to a point.