Let's do Lunch!

lunch at work

Are you reading this, while wharfing a soggy sarnie, with food falling down the gaps on your office keyboard? Does your lunchtime ritual consist of grabbing a quick bite five minutes before that phone rings again, or that urgent email has to be answered?

If your answer is yes, then you’re definitely not alone.

It was Wall Street villain, Gordon Gekko who famously admonished his colleagues by saying "lunch is for wimps", but more than 25 years after the film first came out, it seems lunch breaks at work are very much the rarity.

According to a OnePoll study of 2,000 full-time UK workers, just one in five workers now has a hour-long break for lunch. On average, staff cram their eating into a stomach-ache inducing 29 minutes, which is down from the 33 minutes they ‘enjoyed’ this time last year.

Worse still, is the plight of the 60% of staff who say they don’t take a lunch-break at all.

The culprit of course, is the illusion of not having enough time, being too busy, increasing workloads being heaped on less people and – for 14% of staff ­– wanting to impress the boss.

But the irony is that the boss may not actually like the impact of what he or she is seeing.

According to healthcare group Bupa – which is running its own ‘Reclaim the Lunchbreak’ campaign - not having time to relax, and refuel properly means employees will not be operating at their most optimum level.

As soon as lunch is skipped or stolen quickly, staff fall off a ’productivity cliff’ by about 3pm in the afternoon – after which time, they are pretty much useless. Bupa estimates the cost of this to UK businesses alone is around £500 million per year.

Not only is this bad for your employer, it’s bad for you too. Shrinking lunch breaks mean the average UK worker is clocking up and extra 128 hours of work every year – that’s the equivalent of 16 eight-hour days you’re not being paid for.

So, despite there being no legal right for a lunch break [the European Working Time Directives simply demands people have an uninterrupted 20 minute break after six hours’ continuous work] perhaps it’s time to inform any doubters out there that being slavishly chained to your desk, will keep their business chained to making lower profits. 

Tell your boss that if they want you to work better, giving you some contact with the outside world will make more of a difference than keeping you cocooned inside.