Published on February 26, 2014
Reclaim the lunch hour
Work rituals have changed drastically over the last couple of decades to the point where someone from the 1980s appearing in an office today would probably be shocked at what goes on. For example - lunchtime. How many people actually leave their desks at 1pm and go to the canteen to have something to eat before returning, exactly an hour later to crack on with work again? Back in the 80s, this was normal. Many large offices were deserted at five past one, everyone just went to the canteen, got in the queue and then sat down to eat with their colleagues.
Changing lunch hour habits This all began to change in the 90s though as the 'lunchtime meeting' began to creep in. Of course, we all happily went to them because there was free food and who doesn't like free food? But this was the thin end of the wedge and before you know it, you got out of the habit of going to the canteen and instead brought in your own sandwiches and ate them at your desk. We now have a situation where a vast majority of people simply crack open a packet of sandwiches at some point during the day (the lunch 'hour' has also been eroded) and they just carry on with work. Lunchtime working is seen by many as an efficient time to work with fewer distractions - other than their colleagues who are also working through lunch.
And so this market has expanded with sandwiches being bought on impulse from thousands of people every day who simply take them to work. It's also seen the decline of the work canteen which is a shame as many psychologist feel that a lunch 'downtime' is almost essential for wellbeing and could actually improve your mental capacity for the rest of the day. It seems that constantly working with no break may not be good for you, a fact which is probably not lost on many burnt-out workers.
‘Reclaim the lunch break’ campaign In fact, the problem is so bad that BUPA started a campaign to 'reclaim the lunch break’. Their research found that companies are potentially losing £50million a day through lost productivity because workers are not taking a lunch break.
Their research highlights that only 30% of staff actually takes a lunch hour these days. Workers claim that their productivity falls around 3pm and they potentially lose 40 minutes of work due to this. Productivity is the big problem here. I doubt you'd find anyone that would admit they thought constantly working without a break is a good thing and is beneficial to health, yet we seem to view those who don't work through lunch or who do take regular breaks as maybe not being committed to their job.
In fact, the person that takes breaks, has a full lunch hour and gets out of their chair often during the day will probably turn out to be more productive, happier and healthier than many of us so called "workaholics".
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