For a Happier Workplace, Ban the Desk Lunch

For employees who work a 9 to 5 desk job, nothing is more tempting than eating lunch at their desk. In fact, around 65 percent of Americans actually engage in this practice. Typically, the meal will consist of leftovers from the prior night’s dinner or easily microwavable (and generally undesirable) foods that can be consumed fairly quickly while making little to no mess. Although this sounds unappealing, the practice is alluring because it allows employees to continue working without losing their workday “groove” or having to socialize with their co-workers.

The problem with eating lunch alone at your desk, however, is simple: You are not actually taking a break. You may be satisfying your hunger, but reading emails and answering phones between bites does not allow you to mentally escape from the tasks at hand. Many fear that a real break at lunchtime may disrupt their workflow and affect their work for the latter half of the day, but the opposite is actually true. By taking a step outside the office (or at least away from the desk), you allow your mind to become refreshed, and when you return, you are able to view matters from a new perspective. This can improve your productivity, making it much easier to meet pressing deadlines than if you were to continue working without a break.

Similarly, you, like many employees, may feel as if socializing with co-workers during your lunch break will be a distraction. Studies, however, find that eating lunch with your co-workers can drastically boost your working relationship and, in turn, improve your overall feelings toward your job and work environment.

For those in management positions, banning desk lunches can encourage your employees to take adequate breaks and engage with their co-workers. As a result, the entire environment will transform into a much happier place. Aside from improving productivity and relationships between employees, banning desk lunches can also eliminate bothersome smells that may distract others as well as the potential for spilled beverages and the accumulation of crumbs and food particles. After an initial period of adjustment, your employees will thank you for freeing them from a life of excessive stress, lonely lunches and sticky desks (chances are the custodial staff will also appreciate the switch).

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