American Workers Take 2.7 Hours of Breaks Daily – What are They Doing?


Taking regular breaks is vital for workers to stay focused, productive and alert, but is the US workforce taking too many breaks?

According to research by Solitaired, providers of activities to help sustain healthy bodies and minds, workers in the US take an average of 2.7 hours of breaks each day.

The average worker estimates they only take 42 minutes of breaks per day, but the time devoted away from work tasks is actually 2.7 hours.

Americans Take 2.7 Hours of Breaks Daily

To learn more about workers’ daily routines, Solitaired surveyed 1,241 Americans in early July 2021. The participants were mostly individuals who primarily work at a desk on a computer and work around 35 – 50 hours a week.

The survey found that 89% of workers believe they only take 60 minutes or less of breaks a day but actually only 9% take breaks equating to an hour or less.

Employer Break Expectations

The research also revealed that employers expect employees to take 43 minutes of break daily. Workers are however on breaks five times longer than their employers expect.

The report provides important insight for both employees and employers. It reiterates the importance for employees to take regular breaks and to fully switch off during break time. However, it also reiterates the need for workers to be aware of how much time they are spending on breaks and to avoid taking too long on breaks.

For employers, the responses provide awareness as to employees’ breaktime habits, which is especially important as many workers continue to work from home. It confirms the value of employers encouraging workers to take regular breaks where they are disconnected with working tasks and then come back to work feeling more refreshed.

Although with many workers spending more time on breaks then they thought they were, the study also shows the importance of break monitoring and how employers can ensure employees are working to the right daily working times.

As the authors of the report write:

“Whether you’re multitasking, or fully off-task and on break, the most important factor is self-awareness, and specifically, an accurate sense of how much time has passed and how much time is lost to task switching. Think of how long it takes to write an average email, start to finish, without stopping. Now compare that same task when it’s punctured by an exchange of 8-10 texts with a friend and a few minutes spent watching a YouTube video. It all adds up, big time.”

Types of Break Time

Solitaired asked the participating workers what their breaks were typically devoted to. A daily average of 36 minutes were spent on biological needs, 25 minutes on entertainment, 22 minutes on thinking about things, and 18 minutes of break time each day is spent on communicating with friends, family or partners.

An average 17 minutes each day is devoted to communicating with co-workers and the same time is spent caring for children and pets. 16 minutes of break time every day is spent on digital chores and errands.

Multitasking Habits

The analysis also looked at workers’ multitasking habits. 84% of those surveyed admit to multitasking on a daily basis. Some of the most common habits employees’ couple with work are eating and listing to content. Those who have a tendency to multitask admit to spending almost half of the workday (3.4 hours) on multitasking activities, thereby confirming that multitasking extends much further than browsing through emails during a lunchbreak.

Remote Workers More Prone to Distraction

The study also found that remote workers are more exposed to distraction than office-based employees. 78% of remote workers say they carry out more multitasking compared to when they worked in an office. Almost 60% of remote workers say it takes them longer to get work done than it did in the office.

Solitaired’s report provides invaluable insight into the work and play habits of modern-day work forces. With remote workers being more predisposed to being distracted, multitasking and taking longer to get work done, employers may want to re-evaluate remote worker monitoring and how to encourage a healthy work/play balance for optimum productivity.

Image: Depositphotos

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Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. She is based in the United Kingdom and since 2006, Gabrielle has been writing articles, blogs and news pieces for a diverse range of publications and sites. You can read "Gabrielle’s blog here.".