Dining ‘al desko’

We’ve all done it – I know I have!

It’s very easy to believe that “lunch is for wimps” – you’re so busy and important that you don’t have time to step away from your desk, to take a break, to eat. Maybe it’s peer pressure – you’re concerned that your team mates will frown on you, think you’re not pulling your weight if you’re not glued to your seat from 9 till 5. Perhaps it’s the boss you’re afraid of – thinking you obviously haven’t got enough to do or that you don’t care about meeting deadlines.

Don’t worry about the boss.

You’ll probably find that he/she actually wants you to take a break. Apart from having a legal duty to ensure that all workers have a minimum 30 minute break (subject to the length of their working day) they will know that creativity and productivity are greatly increased if you step out the door, take a walk in the park or even just around the building. Physical movement and visual stimulation give your brain a boost – and a break from staring at a screen.

Don’t worry about your colleagues.

You wouldn’t want to be known as ‘Mrs Eggy Sandwich’ or ‘Mr Stinky Fish’. I’m sure they would be very much happier if you took your whiffy lunch away, (and you may get a nice present from Secret Santa next year). Tuna, last night’s left over curry and so on are very popular, but not necessarily with you co-workers. We all love a bacon butty – well actually we don’t, which is the point. You may have team members whose religious beliefs or dietary preferences are at odds with your choice of luncheon.

It’s not peaceful.

Emails will pop up – and you know you’re going to have a sneeky peeky. Your team will not necessarily know you’re ‘at lunch’ and will call you, or drop by your desk to ask you questions. If they see you’re on Facebook they’ll think you’re having a skive rather than a well-earned break.

It can be messy.

Crumbs in your keyboard is never a good thing, neither are greasy finger prints on your display. More than a third of all major workplace accidents in the UK are caused by slips and trips, with spillages a significant contributor to these incidents. Spillages, droppages, stickiness on the carpet are all going to incur the wrath of your boss, your team mates and the cleaner!

It’s not healthy.

We’re not designed to sit at a desk all day, so taking a break can help protect you from fatigue, eye strain, backache and upper limb pain.

It’s easy to eat more, to think you’re hungry, to start picking at your lunch at 11am (I have to hold my hand up to that one!). Evidence suggests that eating while preoccupied (known as “distracted eating” or “mindless eating”) can lead to hormones (leptin) being slow off the mark to tell your brain you’re full.

The importance of socialising with co-workers is becoming increasingly recognised as being good for your happiness, your health, and your company’s bottom line. This doesn’t necessarily mean Friday night Karaoke, but a chat with people in your team, in other teams may work wonders. It has been suggested that you could feel better, have lower stress and blood pressure levels, and you may be less likely to suffer from depression. That may be going a bit far, but you could certainly catch up with the office goss and go back to work feeling refreshed.

All in all, it’s much better for you, your boss, your colleagues and your clients if you get away from your desk at lunchtime. Try it – I bet the world doesn’t end.

The Survey Initiative is an award-winning organisation with over 20 years expert experience in the field of employee research. If you would like more information about how we can help your organisation with or any aspect of employee research, then give us a call us on 01255 870735 or contact us via our website.