Working through your lunch hour has often been a taboo subject, especially in the workplace – however, it appears that such a myth has been dispelled thanks to a recent study.
A few months ago British health minister Anna Soubry stated that office workers must take a full lunch break instead of partaking in the “disgusting” habit of eating lunch at their desk. However, researchers noted that working without having a lunch hour might not be as bad for your health as experts initially thought; especially when employees did this through their own volition, rather than feeling pressured to do so by their manager.
The study, published recently in the journal Academy of Management Journal, showed that engaging with co-workers during a lunch break actually resulted in increased tiredness as opposed to undertaking work tasks; and that the effect of working on tiredness levels decreased when it was the employee’s decision to opt out of having a lunch break.
Having the sense of freedom energizes us
Undertaking the research was the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, where they assessed administrative workers over a 10-day period regarding their lunch break activities.
The respondents then had to detail how fatigued their co-workers seemed by the end of each work day.
Co-author of the study, associate professor John Trugakos, said that the fundamental aspect of the research was to determine workers making the choice between working or not at lunch rather than feeling compelled to.
Trugakos stated: “We found that a critical element was having the freedom to choose whether to do it or not.
“The autonomy aspect helps to offset what we had traditionally thought was not a good way to spend break time.”
The Huffington Post states that 70% of Brits are now eating lunch at their desks, giving them little time for a legally required break. If it is the employees’ prerogative, could that really be a bad thing?
A lunch break is the perfect time for catching up on projects to relieve deadline stress, and it is equally a good time to leave your desk altogether and chat with your colleagues. As long as it’s your choice.
There seems be proof that supports the notion that lunch breaks could still be advantageous after all – with the study recognising that pleasurable activities chosen by workers during lunch resulted in the least amount of reported tiredness at the end of the working day.
Skipping proper meals is bad for you, everyone knows that. The post-morning energy crash has most of us reaching for the biscuits and the coffee. Missing essential meals like breakfast and lunch plays a key factor in productivity, but if a worker chooses to sit and eat a healthy meal whilst catching up during a designated break, where is the harm in that?
Just don’t be to one to open those slightly-off tuna and egg sandwiches in the office, or you could find yourself less than popular with your co-workers.
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