Why taking a lunch break is good for you and your boss

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Taking a break in the middle of the day increases productivity and is good for your health according to AirConUK.

Workers who don’t take their lunch break in the middle of day work slower and less accurately in the afternoon than those who take at least a 30 minute break away from their workstation.

Findings also revealed that people who eat away from their desk tend to socialise more with their colleagues, creating a friendlier working environment.

People who have their lunch at their desks and think that they are being more productive by ‘getting things done’ by not taking a break are more inclined to make simple mistakes as they lose their mental sharpness.

AirConUK.co.uk ‘s Jonathan Ratcliffe says:

“There’s an awful lot of data about the importance of the lunch break, so we decided to go out and ask workers about their own experiences.”

Over 1350 workers from both offices and industrial environments took part in the survey. They found that 23 percent of workers eat their lunch at their desks or work stations, 18 percent didn’t take their lunch at all, 36 percent didn’t take their full break while only 23 percent took their full break or longer.

In addition to this 41 percent of workers say they don’t take permitted tea or screen breaks during the day and 28 percent admitted to feeling ‘resentful’ of smokers who took multiple breaks to have a cigarette.

Ratcliffe says:

“Scale that up, and there must be millions of workers who don’t take a proper lunch break.”

There were a variety of reasons for workers staying at their desks during breaks. The top reasons include:

  • “I’ve got too much work to do”
  • “The boss guilt-tripped me into working harder”
  • “I don’t get on with my co-workers, I’d rather not eat with them”
  • “There’s nothing to do round here. Might as well sit at my desk”

Workers paired off with similar tasks found that those who had taken a break away from heir work during the day were more productive and made fewer mistakes than those who stayed at their desks. Work diaries also showed an average of 10 percent more productivity and 12 percent fewer errors. One worker forgot to fill out his work diary because he was “too tired, too distracted to remember”, according to AirConUK.

Workers also said that they felt more part of a team as a result of taking a break, which AirConUK believes is just as important as a comfortable work environment.

One worker says:

“I started taking lunch for the first time in ages recently. I’ve been at this company for six years, and now I’m on regular speaking terms with people I hardly knew.”

Another says:

“We’ve been urged to work through our breaks for ‘the good of the company’, and at the end of the day I’m always exhausted and hate my job. Surely that’s not legal?”

AirConUK.co.uk says that’s a compelling reason why workers should insist on their full lunch break.

“You’re legally entitled to it,” says Ratcliffe, “Go out and claim what’s yours.”

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