Are You Working Through Lunch?

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New research suggests that more than one third of workers in Britain are working through lunch breaks, rather than taking them.

The study by Ginger Research, examined the lunch time habits of 1,000 British workers before being able to determine that 34% are working through their lunch every day.

Further to this, only 24% said they would always take a break at lunch time.

The consensus behind deliberately missing lunch breaks is that it allows more time for productivity in the workplace.

But just how true is this theory?

Working Through Lunch and Its Effects on Productivity

It turns out, that it may not be true at all.

The nationwide study also indicates that the extra half hour or hour that missing a lunch break provides is of almost no benefit entirely.

It found that employees that work the traditional 9-5 shift equating to 9 hours (with a half an hour or hour taken for lunch) struggle to be productive throughout the entire period of the work day.

On average, it’s determined that workers will only manage to complete three hours of work each day, with the remaining five hours spent on activities not associated to their work tasks including:

Online Shopping
Talking with Colleagues
Making Tea/Coffee Rounds
Other non-work-related activities

It probably comes as a surprise that the same study reveals that over 64% of those who took part in the survey believed they could fit their works tasks conducted each day into a shorter period of time.

So as working through lunch creates no additional productivity benefits, what benefits does taking a regularly scheduled lunch break provide us with?

The Benefits of Taking a Lunch Break

Consultant Psychiatrist Dr. Dimitrios Pashchos explains how working through lunch is detrimental to employees and productivity into the workplace and why more workers should be taking a full lunch break away from their desk.

“Often there is a very strong temptation to skip a lunch break to catch up with work, however, this can be counter-productive; regular breaks away from the desk have many advantages both physically and mentally and can also have a positive impact on individual and team performance.”

According to Dr. Pashchos, working through lunch also has a negative effect on mental performance, whilst taking a lunch break can improve our logic and thinking, commenting:

“Mental performance is improved when we take breaks. It enables better decision-making and attention to the tasks at hand. Mental performance drops if we don’t take breaks; decision-making becomes slower, attention levels wane and thinking can become more rigid.”

Spending your Lunch Break Wisely

Whilst it can be a force of habit, Dr. Paschos further details how eating lunch at our desk is likely to also have bad effects on our health, explaining:

“We tend to eat faster when at our desks, which means that the stomach doesn’t have enough time to send signals of fullness to the brain, causing us to overeat. We also tend to consume more calories when we eat quickly.”

So how do he and many other health experts suggest we can spend our lunch break wisely?

Well the golden answer lies in going for a walk, away from the air conditioning and central heating found in an office or workplace.

By taking a walk on your lunch break, it allows you time to clear your mind and let your creativity flow much more freely.

And ergonomically speaking, going for a walk benefits our muscles, which due to the current standards of being seating whilst at work, can help common injuries such as cramp, DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and other aches and pains.

Do you regularly work through lunch or do you always make sure to take a lunch break?

Let us know in the comments below.

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Sam Rose

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