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Smoking breaks – are they affecting your productivity at work?

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How to tackle the problem

Whether we work in a small business or a multinational giant, most of us want to give it our all during the working day. We might gripe about our bosses from time to time, but we all understand that for a business to succeed, all staff members need to be focussed and to work hard. Of course, everyone is human, and we all have days when we can’t concentrate, checking Facebook or nattering by the water cooler. Generally, our bosses understand that, and accept that occasional distractions are part of working life, which are unlikely to materially affect the success of a work project.

One thing that really does give cause for concern though, is smoking in the workplace, costing UK companies an astonishing £1.4 billion each year. It’s hard to imagine how a quick ciggie break here and there can mount up to this figure, but when you consider the time lost through getting up from your desk, going outside to the designated smoking area, smoking your cigarette and coming back, it all starts to make sense. Cleaning and disposal costs also add to the overall impact of smoking at work. Smoking can also lead to a certain level of animosity in the workplace, as non-smokers can feel that it’s unfair that smokers are allowed so many 10-minute breaks, whilst they remain hard at work.

Unfortunately for employers, there’s very little that they can actually do to mitigate this problem, as any change has to come from you, the employee. No employer would risk upsetting a large portion of their workforce by insisting that staff stopped taking smoking breaks, so they are, in effect, powerless. If you’re a smoker, and you’ve realised just what kind of impact smoking actually has in the workplace, you might be thinking of giving up. One effective way to do this, is to make the switch to e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes provide the same nicotine experience as conventional cigarettes, but without the harmful chemicals and additives that ordinary cigarettes contain. Nicotine is held in an e-liquid – a flavoured gel, which is heated to create a nicotine-infused vapour. The entire process of vaping is controlled with a push-button device, so there is no ash, butts or empty cigarette wrappers to deal with. Using e-cigarettes, or vaping, is far quicker and less messy than regular smoking, so much less time is spent away from your desk.

If a large percentage of your co-workers also smoke, it might be worth talking to your boss about fixing a formal break for all staff at set times during the day, so that non-smokers don’t feel aggrieved that they are working harder than smokers or vapers. This could have the knock-on effect of getting staff talking to one another more, boosting communications and connectedness at the same time.

Of course, not all bosses would be receptive to the idea of a formal break for all workers, as valuable time is still being lost to these breaks. Already, some bosses take a much stricter line with smoking whilst at work, and some even go so far as to ask smokers to record their breaks, and to make up the lost time, or have money deducted from their wages to take account of the time spent away from their work.

If you’re a smoker and you love your job, you’re probably already aware of the impact your cigarette breaks have on the rest of your team. If you’re keen to do well at work, and to keep team morale high, switching to vaping might just be the solution for you.




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