Taking 5: Work-Breaks, Productivity, and Opportunities for Personal Informatics for Knowledge Workers


Taking breaks from work is an essential and universal practice. In this paper, we extend current research on productivity in the workplace to consider the break habits of knowledge workers and explore opportunities of break logging for personal informatics. We report on three studies. Through a survey of 147 U.S.-based knowledge workers, we investigate what activities respondents consider to be breaks from work, and offer an understanding of the benefit workers desire when they take breaks. We then present results from a two-week in-situ diary study with 28 participants in the U.S. who logged 800 breaks, offering insights into the effect of work breaks on productivity. We finally explore the space of information visualization of work breaks and productivity in a third study. We conclude with a discussion of implications for break recommendation systems, availability and interuptibility research, and the quantified workplace.