I know, I’m a terrible person for eating at my desk and getting keyboard crumbs everywhere, but I am currently doing it as I type this. In the name of efficiency, I risk getting crumbs stuck in my keyboard, but apparently, there are other drawbacks to eating lunch at our desks: we sit for too long, which can lead to health problems; we miss out on networking opportunities, and our work might suffer. The following are some of the consequences that have been linked to eating lunch at your desk during work:
But how bad is eating at your desk, really? If you mindlessly munch and work at the same time, it’s not great.
In 2012, a survey found that around 62% of respondents regularly ate lunch at their desks. For many of these people, they were eating a meal packed from home and doing so in front of their work computers.
With over half of American workers eating at desk alone, it’s easy to paint a very sad picture of the modern workplace. Our sole reprieve from work is often a trip to the vending machine between 2 pm and 4 pm to grab more food to consume in front of our laptops.
And it turns out that desk dining is not just lonely, it could also be stunting overall productivity. While a lunch from home is certainly a cost-effective option, by simply standing, chatting with a co-worker, walking around, or taking her lunch outside for a few minutes (weather permitting), our sad desk-dweller would likely feel better and be more productive in her afternoon.
And it turns out that desk dining is not just lonely, it could also be stunting overall productivity.
However, as offices are moving towards a more social and open workspace, the 62% statistic of people who eat at their desks are becoming less relevant. With multiple opportunities for interaction and corporate wellness plans that promote movement throughout the workday, people are no longer confined to their desks.
Appfolio, a tech company, has Senior Accounting Manager Megan Stichter who stated that many employees use their lunch break to take advantage of the onsite fitness classes. Although these activities are a great way to break up the day, they probably leave employees feeling sluggish when they return to their desks afterward. Although they may still be in the desk-dining statistic, their daily patterns show that maybe a desk lunch is more helpful than harmful to afternoon productivity.
Megan used to relish going out to lunch with co-workers during the day but as she’s progressed in her career and has accruing work (and home) obligations, eating lunch at her desk has become more commonplace. Due to her young children, Megan’s priority is eating dinner at home with her family instead of working late. Most days, she works through lunch or eats quickly at her desk so that she can leave a little earlier in the evening to spend some extra time with her family before her kids go to bed.
Make a list of your regular tasks, behaviors, and rituals, then come up with a scheme that will make your day more exciting.
We often eat lunch at our desks or in front of our computers for various reasons. Maybe we shouldn’t see desk dining as a bad thing, but instead, view our office tables as potential dining spaces. Make a list of your current daily commitments, routines, and activities to help you determine where you can create more time for what matters most.
If the traditional desk job setting isn’t for you, explore your options! There are many opportunities out there. If being active and eating healthy help you do your best work, then great! Do what works best for you to be productive. If you would feel more rewarded by a quick desk lunch because you know that family dinner is awaiting you later, then embrace it. The modern work environment is changing, and it’s okay for us to change with it.
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