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Working Lunches: Should You Do It?

With a ton of work on their plates, it’s not a wonder that many employees choose to not leave their desks and take working lunches instead. For many employees, the mindset is that they can get more things done if they routinely eat their meals at their desks while going through their tasks. In reality, this kind of mentality is unhealthy for the overall well-being of all employees.

If you’re one of those employees who usually take your meal at your desk, it’s time to reconsider changing that habit. In this article, we’ll be talking about the disadvantages of working lunches and how important taking breaks are to your health, inside and out. Read on!

What Is A Working Lunch?

When you work in an office, it’s not uncommon to have a stack of documents and tasks to get through. When lunch time rolls around, you might be feeling hungry but also, you might be debating whether to get up from your desk and eat, take your meal to your desk, or skip lunch altogether. Sometimes you end up doing the first choice, sometimes it’s the last choice, but most of the time, you probably choose to eat as you work. 

Basically, that’s what a “working lunch” means. Instead of taking a proper break and leaving the workstation, you spend your lunch hour multitasking by eating while working. And you’re probably not alone in this mindset; if you take a look at your workplace, your fellow co-workers and even your employers are probably doing the same thing.

Is It Bad to Work Through a Lunch Break?

According to a survey done by Tork, about 62% of North American workers say that they eat lunch at their desks. Most employees — and even employers — mistakenly believe that eating at their desks makes them more productive during the work day. In short term situations, it could be. But in reality, and in the long run, the working lunch mentality is a recipe for disaster.

When a person doesn’t take adequate breaks, the overall work performance in the workplace begins to suffer. Making it a habit to eat lunch at your office table can actually decrease productivity, increase stress levels, and cause a whole host of health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more. Moreover, when you stay at your workstation to eat as you work, it means that you’ll stay seated for longer, and sitting for prolonged periods is detrimental to one’s health.

Benefits of Regular Lunch Breaks

It’s important for both employees and employers to take breaks throughout the workday, especially lunch breaks. When employees take regular breaks, it helps them reduce their stress and re-charge for the rest of their day. To elaborate, here are a few examples on why a proper, actual lunch break should be encouraged in the workplace.

Increase in Productivity

Taking breaks may sound counterintuitive when it comes to productivity. But actually, it is one of the best ways to do so. When employees step away from their desks for a regular lunch break, they can regain their focus and energy. 

A proof of this benefit can be seen in a survey done by Tork, with nearly 90% of North American employees claiming that taking a lunch break helps them feel refreshed and prepares them better to get back to work. Additionally, breaks can help enhance job satisfaction in employees, increasing their likelihood to continue working at the same company for a long time.

Improved Mental Well-Being

When lunch or a break is habitually treated as an afterthought in the workplace, it’s a surefire way to speed up employee burnout. Staying in work mode all the time is a sign of a lack of balance in a company. Having a workplace culture of having little to no breaks can affect the morale of employees, leaving them to withdraw from their jobs and quit. Taking some time away from your workstation for a quick walk or a healthy lunch can help reduce stress and lower the risk of burnouts.

Boost in Creativity

It can be assumed that a lot of employees have experienced a point where they’re uninspired and lack ideas. No matter how much they stare at their screens, their creative juices have run out and nothing comes to mind. Getting up from your chair and taking a break can provide you with a fresh perspective on challenging tasks.

Time for Healthy Habits

When companies encourage their employees to take regular breaks, it gives them time to foster healthy habits that can benefit each and every one of them in the long run. These break times can be used by employees to eat a healthy lunch, do an exercise or two to relieve muscle tension, meditate to clear their minds, or socialize with their fellow workers. 

How To Encourage Employees To Take Breaks

The survey done by Tork revealed that about 20% of employees are worried that their employers won’t think they’re hard working if they take regular lunch breaks. To get rid of that notion, it’s time for employers to take charge and foster a culture that values breaks. If you’re an employer, here are some tips that you can do to create an inclusive lunch culture at work.

Take Breaks Visibly

Some employees feel uneasy when they see their managers eating at their desks, prompting them to stay in their seats too rather than take a break. If you’re the boss or the head of a team, leading by example is one way, if not the best, to encourage employees to take breaks. When they see their managers taking lunch breaks, exercise breaks, walking breaks, and the like throughout their workday, they’ll feel more empowered and less worried to do the same things.

Discuss Benefits of Regular Breaks

Many employees aren’t exactly aware of the benefits of taking a break. To create a healthier work environment, it’s important to let the employees know that taking some time away from their workstation is a good thing to do. You can send out email blasts or reminders, put up flyers, or even give talks on the subject.

Limit Meetings at Mid-Day Hours

When meetings are scheduled back-to-back, especially around mid-day, most employees tend to skip their meals altogether. They’d rather avoid running into issues before their meeting than fill and recharge their bodies with food. It’s more ideal for companies to schedule a time for all employees to eat or even use that time for their personal break. By giving them time to refresh and recharge their energy before a meeting, it can allow them to participate more in the discussions.

Encourage Lunch Events

Having monthly, company-sponsored lunches can allow employees to connect and socialize more with each other, fostering a harmonious environment. Eating together once in a while can also make people feel less alone or lonely in the workplace.

There you have it! Eliminating the working lunch mindset at work and advocating to take regular breaks — including lunch breaks — throughout the day is a great way to create a better workplace. It can boost employee wellness, improve job satisfaction, and even heighten everyone’s work performance. Try it out in your office and experience the awesome positive changes for yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a healthy lunch to take to work?

Lunch at work doesn’t have to be unhealthy and boring at all! Moreover, a healthy lunch doesn’t mean you’ll have to subject yourself to eating salad all the time! If you find yourself not having the time to prepare your meals before you go to the office, you can meal-prep in advance so that you won’t have to worry about not having anything to eat for the entire work week. You can make easy to prepare dishes such as Buddha bowls, chickpea sandwiches, chicken wraps, noodles with vegetables, and more. 

You can also have a healthy array of snacks with you. For example, you can keep a cup of fruit in the office pantry, have sticks of veggies and dip it in hummus, have some crackers and cheese, and the like. The choices are endless.

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.