The temptation to eat at our desks is becoming more commonplace as the lines between workplace and social space blur in today's coworking environments.
But besides the annoyance of crumbs in your keyboard, there are several compelling reasons why you should take full advantage of your lunch break each day.
Boost Your Physical Health
Mindlessly snacking at your computer often leads to overeating and remaining sedentary for too long can cause muscle tension, joint pain, and circulation issues. If you must stay at your desk, be sure to take breaks to stretch, move around, and restore blood flow.
Getting outside for even just a quick 20-minute walk, heading to a break room, or visiting a nearby café will do your body good. Take the stairs instead of the lift and consider doing simple office yoga or exercises. Caring for your physical health with movement and fresh air will pay off tremendously in the long run.
Improve Your Mental Health and Wellbeing
Stepping away from your work during lunch gives your mind a chance to recharge. Rather than responding to emails or taking calls, change your environment and give your brain a much-needed break.
Eating with coworkers can also boost mental health, as social interactions decrease stress hormones and improve mood. The benefits are similar to exercise – you’ll likely feel happier, more relaxed, and energised afterward.
Prioritise Workplace Hygiene
Desks can harbour up to 400 times more bacteria than toilet seats. While professional cleaning services help mitigate risks, employees also need to do their part to maintain proper hygiene.
Eating at your computer invites mess and allows food particles and bodily fluids to accumulate on keyboards, which then become breeding grounds for harmful microbes. Studies show over 25,000 bacteria per square inch have been found on office desks. Dangerous pathogens like Staphylococcus, E. coli, and Salmonella can thrive and spread disease.
Additionally, desks collect an average of 10 million bacteria per square metre. With the average desk size around 1.5 square metres, that's over 15 million bacteria! Phones, computer mice, coffee makers, and other office items also collect germs.
At Workplace, we make office hygiene a daily priority. We recommend employees fully clear their desks at the endof their shift to allow for thorough disinfection by our teams. Our daily services focus on disinfecting high-touch areas like desks, door handles, printers, conference rooms, break areas, and more. Regular professional cleanings eliminate harmful germs that employee cleaning alone often misses. Combining daily professional disinfection with good hygiene practices by staff is key to creating the healthiest workspace environment.
Encourage a Culture of Breaks
Some companies now ban desk lunches and implement policies requiring employees to eat in dedicated break rooms. With these rules in place, staff feel more productive, collaborative, and social.
The Wellbeing Charter recognises organisations that encourage healthy eating options and provide adequate break spaces. Investors in People accreditation promotes best practices around health, safety and wellbeing, which lunch breaks support. And CSR initiatives enable companies to implement their own employee health and welfare programs, including lunch break policies.
The Benefits are Clear
A proper lunch break improves your physical and mental health, creates a more hygienic workspace, and fosters a culture of self-care. While eating at your desk may provide a sense of productivity, research shows taking time to fully recharge makes you more effective at your job in the long-term.
Making lunch breaks a consistent part of each workday has benefits for your mind, body, coworkers, and company as a whole. Start implementing a daily ritual of stepping away from your desk to eat, socialise, and re-energise. You’ll quickly notice the positive impacts throughout all aspects of work and life!