Netflix and chill? Why watching TV at work can help productivity

The rise of microbreaks in remote work could help employees focus

Netflix and chill? Why watching TV at work can help productivity

With streaming platforms making films and TV shows more accessible, a lot of workers admitted they’ve have been binge watching their favourite movies during workhours. A survey from revealed 51% of employees are watching television shows during work hours. This number is higher for remote workers at 53%, while nearly half or 42% of onsite workers admit to this behaviour too.

Remote workers also spend an average of five hours watching TV during work hours, double than the 2.5 hours spent by onsite workers. According to 75% of workplace watchers, they keep their television on while working, while 25% pause during their work to watch.

Does it affect productivity? Well, 60% of remote workers said watching television at work helps them with their concentration. Onsite workers aren't too keen, however, because only 35% of them said it helps them focus. Overall, concentration is the second-highest reason why remote and onsite workers watch the TV while at work. The highest reason behind this behaviour is to pass the time (64%), while the third reason is because it keeps employees occupied during their breaks (43%).

Another 21% of employees, however, said that they take TV breaks because they feel more productive after taking one.

What are they watching?

The impact of the Internet reflected heavily on the answers of workers on where they watch shows during their TV breaks. Nearly half or 49% said they are watching on streaming services, another 40% said they watch on YouTube, a significantly smaller eight per cent said they tune in to network or cable TV shows.

Comedy was the favourite genre of employees looking to catch a break, followed by educational videos, sports, reality programmes, and then news. If not watching TV shows, 63% of workers said they engage on social media during their work hours. Fifty-seven per cent said they shop online, 35% said they are running errands and are working on a side job or hustle.

Read more: How to take a break from always 'being on'

Do ‘TV breaks’ hurt or help productivity?

An important part of an employee's day is their break, which employers are encouraged to give their staff, even if it means taking so-called microbreaks. A study from The Journal of Applied Psychology described "microbreaks" as brief moments of relaxation in between intensive tasks for employees.

"A five-minute break can be golden if you take it at the right time," said Sophia Cho, a psychology professor at North Carolina State University and study co-author."Our study shows that it is in a company’s best interest to give employees autonomy in terms of taking microbreaks when they are needed – it helps employees effectively manage their energy and engage in their work throughout the day.”

According to the study, employees who are taking free and frequent microbreaks feel more supported at work, and they feel that their employers care for their health.

"And that is ultimately good for both the employer and the employee," said Cho.

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