My typical work day: Arrive. Work or meetings for roughly 4 or 5 hours. Rush down to grab lunch before the cafeteria closes. Scarf down food at my desk within 10 minutes. Then back to work and meetings for another 4 or 5 hours.
Sound familiar? If so, you’re in good company.
If you believe the stats, 48% of employees take less than a half hour for lunch and it’s usually a pretty solitary experience, with as many as 65% of Americans choosing to eat at their desks in a desperate bid to get more done. Even if you’re eating at your desk and reading, you’re not really giving yourself a mental break and it’s all to easy to get sucked back into catching up on the emails waiting for you to read. While you might think you’re being super productive by firing off an email or two while eating a sandwich, the 5-Step Guide to Better Office Lunches infographic (created by Adzuna, Europe’s fastest growing jobs search engine) below explains why failing to take a proper break actually actually reduces productivity in the afternoon.
Getting away from your desk for a bit of light exercise and a change of environment is just the first in to better office lunches. As well as focusing on where you eat and what you eat, the infographic also takes a moment to point out that who you eat with is also important. Spending time with your co-workers in a less formal setting than usual has many benefits. From simply getting to know colleagues and building trust with them to make you a better functioning team, to taking advantage of networking opportunities, and even finding novel solutions to work problems by having frank but casual conversations, what you gain from a shared lunch experience can be so much more rewarding than sending an extra email or two.
While it’s not possible for me to separate myself from my desk every day, I have started to make a more deliberate effort to eating lunch in my group’s collaboration area at least once or twice a week. Sometimes, I’ll sit there alone, looking at the window, and just enjoying the view. But more often times than not, I’m joined by other colleagues who are also taking a step away. And I find that those moments allow me to get to know my colleagues better and catch up with the ones who I don’t to talk very frequently.
What’s wrong with taking lunch? Absolutely nothing. Give your mind and body a break from the computer and desk — even if it’s for just a half hour. I guarantee you will return refreshed and more energized.
This article has been co-authored by Elizabeth Lupfer and by the team at Adzuna, Europe’s fastest growing jobs search engine, with over 9 million visitors a month.