Come back soon: Victoria fabric store locks the doors for uninterrupted lunch breaks

Come back soon: Victoria fabric store locks the doors for uninterrupted lunch breaks

The Makehouse Co-op, a fabric store in Victoria, closes shop for half an hour to ensure employees get restful and uninterrupted lunch breaks.

Every day at 12:30 p.m., the employees close the curtains and lock the doors until 1 p.m., according to co-owner Kathryn Camfield.

She said this creates a calm and reenergizing environment for staff to recharge during lunch breaks.

“I think everybody can understand that being ‘on,’ like doing customer service, without breaks is really challenging. You get people walking in, you get phone calls, there’s emails to respond to,” Camfield explained.

“So to have that little protected window in the middle of the day is really valuable for everybody. It’s kinda like a reset.”

The Makehouse Co-op started closing during lunch breaks in January.

Before that, Camfield said the small staff would only get short breaks or have to rotate their break times with other coworkers.

“Often what would happen is we would need to interrupt the staff to ask a question, or if we were the only ones at the store, which does happen, we would have to eat our lunch at the front desk,” she said.

The owners decided to make the switch as part of a strategy to improve the work environment and retain staff.

Camfield said prioritizing employee mental health and giving them the time during the work day to decompress has improved morale and productivity.

“The staff definitely feel better rested with the break, and so honestly, we can do our jobs better,” she added.

Employee Heather Newton said this break is an important and appreciated part of her day at work.

Newton said having the time to rest, have some food and feel better helps her reset for the second half of her shift.

“I just know I’m a better person when going to interact with everybody,” she said. “I don’t know if I’d ever want to go back to lunches, not quite like this.”

Newton added it creates a more connected staff, as it also gives them a chance to talk and learn more about each other.

Camfield said the community has been very supportive of the move.

The store recently made a Facebook post reminding the community of their lunchtime closure, with all the comments being positive.

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Those CHEK News spoke with Wednesday also backed the store.

“I think it’s really great. People need rest, they need food, and they need time off,” Christine Gaudet said.

Roger Eldridge said it’s good for employees “and build the culture and give people good balance with a long work day.”

Camfield said if people come to the store during the closed half-hour lunch break, the employees won’t ignore them but poke their heads out and inform the customer the store will reopen soon and hope they will come back.

The store also stays open until 5:30 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. to make up the time it closes during the day.

She added she would recommend this type of break to any business that is able to make it work.

READ ALSO: Work less, earn the same: B.C. Greens push for four-day workweek pilot project

Mackenzie ReadMackenzie Read

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