Feierabend: Disconnect from Work the German Way

27 March, 2021
More people are teleworking now than ever. This means that work can take up much more of your time than before. Feierabend is a way to stop this from happening.

Feierabend is a tactic the Germans devised that allows people to disconnect from work. Because, as we all know, the line between work and personal life is now thinner than ever. In fact, in some cases, you might be more or less working all day.

This is especially true if you work remotely. You’re continuously receiving emails and messages. This means that you really have no breaks. Feierabend provides a solution to this problem.

When you can’t cut yourself off from your work, you become exhausted and this negatively affects your personal life. Feierabend allows you to take a physical and mental break from your work demands.

The art of relaxing is part of the art of working.”

-John Steinbeck-

A man at his computer looking tired, who could benefit from feierabend.

The characteristics of teleworking

Teleworking means that you no longer have to commute to and from work. However, although this journey was more than likely dominated by traffic jams and crowds, it was also time you had for yourself.

Teleworking has eliminated this journey. Instead, you probably have more flexible working hours. In fact, you might start earlier and finish much later. On some occasions, you might even find yourself getting up in the middle of the night to finish a work assignment.

Your journey to work added a little bit of momentum to your day. You traveled through different areas, saw different people, and moved around. Telework has made you far more sedentary.

What’s Feierabend?

Feierabend is defined as the moment when your working day ends and you’re able to rest. It’s a German word that actually means the feeling you have when you’ve carried out all the tasks on your agenda that you needed to do. In fact, there’s a special feeling of satisfaction at this time, because you’ve done what you were meant to and you’re now in charge of your own time.

Feierabend is, in effect, more or less equivalent to your previous journey to and from work. In fact, the Germans devised this tactic due to the fact that no journey is involved in teleworking. It consists of simply taking a walk once you finish working.

The idea is to mark the transition between your working and non-working hours. Therefore, if you finish work at 6:00 P.M, you then go for a walk. Your relaxation time has begun. Hence, you have a distinct cut-off point between work and rest.

People walking in to their offices.

The advantages of feierabend

When you’re a teleworker, even with strict hours, you always tend to spend more time working. For example, you’re more likely to complete a task before taking a break. Furthermore, while you can stop working physically, you can’t mentally take yourself away from the task. Not being able to change your environment isn’t particularly helpful.

There’s a boundary in face-to-face work, a start and finish time. In telework, this boundary becomes rather blurred. Consequently, it’s easy to end up working more than you did before, and your working life and personal life effectively become the same. This isn’t healthy, and lines always need to be drawn.

This is why feierabend is so positive, as it marks a before and after. Because you take a walk at the same time each day, which signifies the end of work and the start of your relaxation time. This is essential, not only in preserving your mental health but also in increasing your productivity.

There doesn’t seem to be a strictly accurate translation of feierabend. Some people state that it’s “happy hour”. Others say it’s more akin to “reconnecting with your core”. Whatever its exact meaning, the truth is that it corresponds to that moment in the day when your work duties end. It should be preserved at all costs.

Opaschowski, H. W. (2013). Feierabend?: von der Zukunft ohne Arbeit zur Arbeit mit Zukunft. Springer-Verlag.