Thursday, May 28, 2015

How Taking Breaks Improves Your Productivity

To create extraordinary teamwork, you need to shake up your company's daily routine.

This is something I learned from a recent initiative we took at GQueues in Chicago’s 1871 digital startup community. I handle marketing and outreach in the office three days a week and work remotely the rest of the time. Like me, the whole team works across changing schedules, so our challenge is to maximize productivity when we work together.

To help this effort, we started GQueues Creativity Days where once a month, we leave the office to take a break from our normal routine and create new experiences that inspire our work. Yes, it sounds a little cheesy. However, as research shows, taking the occasional field trip with your team can dramatically improve office productivity. At GQueues, we definitely experienced this first-hand.

On Creativity Days, we spend time on activities that are not directly related to our end of week goals. For example, we went to see Sasheer Zamata from SNL and Phil Jackson from Key and Peele perform at the 2015 Chicago Improv Festival. Other entrepreneurs from 1871 also joined us to watch the show, meet the performers and learn about the benefits of improv comedy in business.

Another day, we trekked across downtown Chicago, taking pictures for GQueues’ social media presence. This was not only a fun way to generate content and simultaneously exercise, but also, we got to know each other and became better friends.

As you can tell, our unstructured time together isn't spent idly - rather, it helps us to build mutual trust, the root of collaboration. At the end of each Creativity Day, we are always more comfortable having conversations and sharing ideas. Team members mentioned they are able to focus on their work and collaborate more easily. Since we can better accommodate each other's work styles, we are more productive.

Even between monthly Creativity Days, we fit creative breaks into our weekly schedule. This includes using the treadmill desk, taking a walk by the Chicago River or having lunch with other entrepreneurs to learn about their businesses.

However you like, I’m an advocate for doing creative activities and building friendships within your company. Besides making work more enjoyable, it also presents substantial business benefits. Team members are held more accountable for completing tasks and contribute to a happier, more productive office culture.

OK, enough about us. How do you help your team break out of the ordinary and create truly great work?

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