COMMENT:

It's long been known what a hard working bunch most of us Kiwis are.

I'll never forget when I lived and worked in London how easy it was to get a job – "oh you're a Kiwi!" they'd exclaim before snapping you up as they regaled you with stories of how hard working New Zealanders are.

I didn't truly know what they meant by that until I worked alongside the Brits.

Known for their pub lunches, back then I also learned they're big fans of the morning tea - and afternoon tea break - too.

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Sometimes those breaks being as long as the lunch itself. They also didn't mind an early knock-off.

And that wasn't just the worker bees, the management execs fancied nice long breaks too.

In fact it was rare to be left in the office for any particular length of time: I'd often look around and realise they weren't even skiving, this is just what they did.

They did not view 'breaks' as slacking off. It took a while to get my head around all this leaving the office and venturing out, no qualms at all, for a lengthy sit down and smoko.

But all that appears to have changed now, as many more people these days seem to be 'working through' lunch.

Research out of the UK has found that skipping breaks at work can lead to bad posture, an unhealthy diet and sleepless nights.

We're not much better here. In fact New Zealand is the ninth highest in the OECD when it comes to working hours per week.

So what's that done for our work-life balance?

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Health insurer Southern Cross have been saying it's not good for us. According to one report, "we're less active, more stressed, sleep less and spend more time sitting indoors".
That doesn't paint a pretty picture.

Getting outside, the experts claim, boosts wellbeing, gets us moving. We encounter fresh air. We stop being hunched over staring at a screen.

But what about those who want to bring in last night's leftovers, re-heat them in the office microwave, and eat it at their desk so they can just carry on and get home faster?
Surely there's merit in that?

Or those who want to curb the daily cafe costs and just stay at their desk to eat a sandwich?

But much like any laptop, it seems most of us thrive when we get a 'reset'. Stopping and restarting is actually better for productivity.

So I guess we need to overcome the hurdle of the guilty feeling that a 'break' equals slacking off.

It's the same reason teachers have non-contact time. Sometimes we do just need to walk away ... to come back fresher.