Understanding the psychological and social influences on office workers taking breaks: A thematic analysis

Oliver, M., Rodham, K., Taylor, J. and McIver, C. (2020) Understanding the psychological and social influences on office workers taking breaks: A thematic analysis. Psychology & Health, 36 (3). pp. 351-366. ISSN 1476-8321

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Objective: There is a growing trend whereby office workers refrain from taking breaks at work. Previous research has not explored how employees understand the enablers and barriers to taking breaks. This study explored how office-based workers describe their behaviour in relation to, and perceive the notion of, taking breaks.

Design: Five focus groups were held with 27 employees of differing levels of seniority at a local authority in the UK. Inductive thematic analysis was employed with the researchers maintaining a deliberate stance of curiosity towards the data, allowing for reflexivity and awareness of preconceptions towards the research.

Results: The analysis identified 5 key themes: the non-binary nature of taking breaks at work, the influence of social and work relationships, the superordination of work over breaks and health, contradictory feelings of guilt and anxiety and being 'fair game' for work related matters if you remain at your desk at break times.

Conclusion: This paper suggests that the complex relationships that people have with taking breaks, with others and with their physical environment should be taken into account when trying to understand break-taking behaviour. Based on these findings, suggestions for further research and potential health-related policy and organisational changes are made.

Publication Type: Articles
Uncontrolled Keywords: Workplace; breaks; focus groups; health; thematic analysis.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Education, Social and Life Sciences > Psychology
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Karen Rodham
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2021 11:18
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2021 11:18
URI: https://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/6020

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