Do you take a long enough lunch break?

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According to a data set from Comparably (super cool work compensation and culture comparison site) there is a large amount of disparity when it comes to lunch breaks. The polled over 3500 employees in the tech industry and then went on to break down the data in terms of gender, department, and location.

Here’s what they found:

  • Women are more likely to eat lunch while working at their desks than men are.

  • Women take shorter lunch breaks overall than men.

  • Designers and engineers take longer breaks than product employees.

  • People in Atlanta take the longest work breaks overall (50 min), and people working in Washington D.C. the shortest (29 min).

  • Founders and CEOs were prone to taking much longer lunch breaks than anyone else.

  • Seventy-one percent of founders/CEOs take more than an hour off at lunch, whereas people in operations, marketing and admin roles admit to eating on the job.

Are you taking a long enough lunch break? (And does it matter?)

Okay, so initially the lunch break might have evolved because, without one, there way no way that employees working in factories could eat. Eating involves hands, so manual workers who use their hands to build stuff can’t eat and work at the same time.

This is somewhat true still, but generally most of us can sustain ourselves without actually stopping work—we can eat at our desks. I admit that I do this all the time, but there is a reason for that I will explain shortly.

Nowadays we know that the lunch break serves a purpose that is almost more important than the function of taking in food. We take a break from work.

Conference Calling
Don’t turn into this.

Numerous studies (and common sense) show that when we take a break we return more fecund than we were before. The quality of our work returns to a higher standard after lunch not because we ate, but because we stepped out of the office, did something else for a while, or allowed our faculties a rest. Even if it’s less than an hour, most of us notice a difference in function after a short break.

So why do I eat my lunch at my desk?

I eat at my desk because I eat on returning from a total out-of-office experience. What I do differs every day, but I always take between 60 and 120 minutes away from my desk anytime between 11 and 2 pm. Sometimes I go to the gym, or take a yoga class. Most of the time I meet a friend and go for a nice long walk. At least once a week I get on my road bike and spin it out.

There is another rule: I alway get changed out of my work clothes for my midday break.

Mostly this serves the purpose of me not getting my work clothes all sweaty if I am exercising (try taking a yoga class in a summer dress). But I have also found that getting my yoga pants on cues my brain into recess-mode.

When I put the work dress back on and go eat my lunch at my desk afterwards, I usually feel as fresh as I did when I first got into the office that morning.

TL;DR: If you are a male CEO working in Atlanta the chances are that you are having a long enough lunch break. The rest of us could do with taking some more time.

Tab headerBy Tabitha Farrar

CMO at MobileDay, and big advocate of walking breaks. 


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