Think of the smartphone break as the new cigarette break. Employees who are jonesing to check in with their social networks are going to be happier and more relaxed if you give them permission to step into the hall or break room and tweet away for 20 minutes a day.

At least that's what preliminary research based upon a very small study told doctoral candidate Sooyeol Kim at Kansas State University. "Having workers take small breaks on their phones throughout the day may positively influence their perceived well-being at the end of the workday," he said.

Before you set aside a text zone in the office, consider that Kim sampled just 72 young workers in South Korea. He's still working on his hypothesis, the results of which he intends to present to a conference in May. However, he said, what he's learned so far indicates that allowing workers to take smartphone social networking breaks may be the smart play.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.