Give me a break: Microsoft Outlook rolls out new feature to help employees rest

If you've experienced back-to-back virtual meetings over the past year while on the job, you know they can be tiring.

Microsoft is trying to change that with a new option in its Outlook platform.

The change will allow companies to schedule five-minute breaks before or after a 30-minute meeting or a ten-minute break after an hour-long meeting, allowing participants to take an automatic pause.

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So, how do you make the most of those breaks?

Some researchers are backing what's known as Pomodoro Technique, which calls for work sessions of 25 minutes followed by a five-minute break and a 15-minute break at least once every two hours.

To get the full benefit, you have to completely disconnect from work. Ideally, you'll want to stand up from your desk and walk away from the computer screen. Other suggestions include reading a book or engaging with a friend or colleague in conversation.

"In today's world of remote and hybrid work, it's not sufficient to only encourage self-care," Microsoft chief people officer Kathleen Hogan said in a statement. "We need to innovate and leverage technology to help employees operationalize much-needed breaks into their daily routines."

The break feature lets you select the length of the break and when they should happen.

Setting up the rules for taking a break is simple:

1. Open Outlook and go to File.
2. Select Options and click on Calendar Options.
3. In options, check the Shorten appointments and meetings checkbox and also choose End early or Start late.
4. Lastly, indicate the number of minutes for each event type and click OK to save the change.

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