Smoke Breaks: A Dying Cultural Phenomena
I miss the smoke break. The 10. The 15. The escape from a hectic day at work. When customers would line up in front of registers. Or a mental block would dry up the creative well. I could grab a co-worker, a friend, to escape the situation at hand, and enjoy a much needed reprieve from the 9-5.
Nowadays, I work from home. Luckily it's not because the pandemic has forced me too, but because I've been working on a Slack app since early 2020. I work with one co-founder, Steve, and he lives 6,216 miles away. And since this business journey started during the spread of COVID-19, all my meetings have been done remotely as well. Like so many millions of others, the way I work has changed, and somedays I miss the scattered chattering of an office, or the busy rush of a film set.
My favorite part of the smoke break was that it was taken with friends. Someone would tap me on the shoulder, "Hey David, do you want to step outside?". Unless I'm in the middle of something urgent, the answer is almost always, Yes! And the question usually comes at the perfect time. Like there's some sort of telepathic understanding between my friend and I. We need to get the hell out of here, now.
I don't really smoke. I might take a puff, but I'll never inhale. But, the smoke break doesn't discriminate based on your level of smoker. No, the smoke break accepts all who wish to partake. Anyone with the gutso to stand in the smokers section, and band together with their co-workers to share laughs, discuss life plans, report on failed relationships, and of course, talk shit about the rest of those inside.
But - many of those who look forward to the smoke break, those who have formed life long memories over an American Spirit or a cool mint Juul, have ran into a roadblock. Remote work. If you're someone who has had to transition to working from home (yes, a better situation than no job at all), I want you to think about those smoke breaks. Reminisce on the feeling you had when someone asked you to take a 10. Try to imagine how your face lit up in excitement. Now, try to find a moment that felt similar while you were working from home. If you're drawing a blank, it probably never happened. The magic of the smoke break is slowly being stolen from us. But, we shouldn't forget about it, as the purpose it serves, to bring friends closer together, is desperately needed in remote workplaces. Maybe even more than working locally.
So, in an attempt to play our part in keeping the tradition alive, we developed a tool. A tool that seeks to replicate the feeling of taking a smoke break with a co-worker you call a friend. We call this tool Smoke Break. It's so easy to use, that it works across all platforms such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Email. We hope that, for all you out there who have formed offices at home, this tool will help you get your smoke breaks back.
Written by David O. Follow him at @David_O_J.