First, let’s be reasonable. The truth is this: today’s workplace is demanding. So much so that many days employees feel that they need to eat at their desks and continue to work through the lunch hour.
Data shows that only one in five office workers get a proper lunch break at their desk, according to a Power Management survey. But there is more than one other review:
- Nearly 20% of American workers think their bosses will think they are busy if they eat lunch regularly, while 13% think they will be judged by their colleagues.
- 38% of employees are not encouraged to take a lunch break.
- 22% of US executives said that employees who regularly eat lunch are considered more active.
That is still true today. A recent Twitter poll from August 2019 showed that of more than 200 people who work in an office, 72% work lunch hours. The purpose of the lunch break is not to waste time
Leaving your desk to eat is an opportunity to recharge your mental batteries and reset yourself for the second half of the day. That’s good news because data shows that letting go of work-related tasks makes your brain work better and focus better. Studies show that taking a 15-20 minute break is a proven way to stay focused and energized throughout the day.
But not only that. There are also group-based benefits. In short: taking a lunch break is an easy way to socialize with your colleagues and get to know them better. It is a low-risk, stress-free environment for conversations to happen and helps create a sense of intimacy that is often rare in the workplace.
This opens the way for compassionate, compassionate, and engaging conversations with people in different departments that you may not always have the opportunity to interact with during the work day. It is also an opportunity to engage in the social part of your brain that longs for emotional, human connections throughout the day and can be a place for organic connections building that leads to new opportunities and friendships.
What to do when you think you need to work through lunch
So what do you do when you feel like you don’t have time for a lunch break? Here are some ideas for overcoming this obstacle.
Reorganize or prioritize your workload.
If you have so much to do that you don’t eat lunch, things will change. Find ways to increase productivity or outsource unnecessary or time-consuming tasks so that you have at least 30 minutes for lunch each day. This might mean starting a project sprint behind closed doors in the morning or skipping a webinar you don’t want to attend.
Ask yourself: what will I gain by skipping lunch?
Are the few minutes you spend working out in between those hot sandwiches productive when you think about it? Or is it just a psychological barrier or a public perception issue? You can be more productive if you take some time away from your workplace.
If you feel like you can’t bring yourself to have a proper lunchtime, work into your schedule by combining it with a deliberate practice, such as asking a co-worker to join you sometime. Because the other person will be waiting for you, you will be more inclined to hold up your end of the deal and take a real break from the time set aside for bonding.
The short answer to this burning question is obvious: the only job you have to do at lunch is to keep your team away from your desk. Give yourself at least 30 minutes a day and work it into your schedule and be firm on your end about it.