Nowadays, the tides are turning in office culture where office lunch is concerned. Studies have shown that 67% of office workers prefer to eat their lunch while at their desks for various reasons but none of these reasons can justify the health risks that come with the so-called desk lunch.
Productivity and Impressions Thereof
What makes the desk lunch increasingly popular? While there are plenty of reasons discussed below, most of these reasons boil down to one word – productivity.
In many developed countries from the United States to the United Kingdom, the continuing scarcity of jobs resulting in fierce competition among workers has fuelled the desire to be more productive in the workplace. The more work done, the more chances of retaining the job and, thus, the more workers eating their lunches while still at work.
Think of it as multi-tasking, too: Eating your lunch while still working (i.e., typing in information on databases, calculating cost tables, and checking papers) while getting your sustenance for the next 4 hours or more of work ahead.
- Heavier workloads. With employers hiring less employees to perform the same amount of work, workers have heavier workloads that require more working hours without sacrificing personal time.
- No convenient access to affordable dining establishments.
- Replacing lunch hour for eating with running for errands, napping, or exercising
- Healthier eating habits especially where the diet involves eating 5-6 small meals a day
Many workers may even be eating lunch at their desks to make an impression of being a hard-working employee. Let’s just say that productivity or an impression of it can drive an employee to skip on his one-hour lunch break, as mandated by law.
Merits and Demerits
Like all office-related aspects, desk lunches have their share of merits and demerits. The most obvious merit is higher productivity because you can finish more tasks during your lunch hour than, say, if you chose to take a leisurely lunch in the cafeteria, or take a nap in the lounge, or gossiped with your co-workers.
You may even be able to shave 30 minutes off your going-home time in the afternoon. For example, you can get home by 6PM instead of 6:30 PM because you have finished many of your tasks during your lunch hour.
Plus, you will be less tempted to engage in non-productive activities like gossiping with your co-workers. An idle mind is the devil’s workplace, after all.
But such benefit will be offset by the disadvantages of regular desk lunches. Be careful when you get into the habit because you are more likely to:
- Eat more. This is called mindless eating, which has contributed to the obesity problem in many countries.
- Make poor food choices. You will grab whatever food is available – crisps and coke from the vending machine, for example – unless you pack your own lunch of healthy food.
- Sit longer. You should engage in mild physical exercises to stimulate your mind and body for the next hours of work.
In conclusion, a desk lunch is not bad in itself but you must strike a good balance between good productivity and good health (e.g., take advantage of your lunch hour 3 days out of 5).
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