A lunch hour in the middle of a stressful work day should be considered a blissful escape from an employee’s to-do list.  Depending on a company’s individual policy, most full-time employees are entitled to at least an hour’s lunch break in a work day, as a time to recharge productivity levels by eating and relaxing before continuing with their work.

However, as beneficial as a lunch hour sounds (and should be), it’s been revealed that most UK office workers don’t take their full lunch hour. A study from Workthere revealed that the average UK full-time worker only takes a lunch break of 34 minutes a day – thus the death of the lunch hour.

The study continued in revealing that over half of the 2,000 workers surveyed actually skip and work through their ‘lunch hours’ altogether – Londoners being the most likely to do this, followed by employees in Birmingham, Manchester and Norwich. Office workers also eat at their desk four days per week on average too – a habit that we’ve previously outlined the pros and cons of here (spoiler- it isn’t great for productivity, cleanliness and health).

12% of those surveyed said they actually felt pressured to work through their lunch break, instead of taking the break that they are entitled to, to relax, run errands or socialise (all of which are great for your work-life and productivity). The pressure to work instead of stop at 1pm may be due to an employees’ relationship with their boss, having too much work to complete to have time to stop, or wanting to get ahead of their work to impress and improve said relationships with senior colleagues.

A reason why employees have shorter-than-allowed lunch breaks may also be due to office and workspace design. The survey revealed that 32% of employees say that their lunch break could be of a longer duration if a quiet area to enjoy it in was available. This could include secluded lunch areas or relaxing communal spaces like lounges. More than a third also said they believe their productivity would increase if there was a nice outdoor space readily available – with benefits of fresh air at work outlined by us before.

Taking a longer lunch break than the average 34 minutes would be – as expected – beneficial for employees’ productivity in a number of ways:
  • Giving eyes a rest from screens will maintain eye health
  • Simply giving the brain a rest from concentrating or performing repetitive tasks allows it to be refreshed after a break
  • Communicating and socialising with colleagues can promote healthy work relationships and bring about opportunity for shared ideas and collaboration
  • As mentioned, fresh air is great to refresh the body and mind with the intake of oxygen and change of scenery

Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our Content Writer.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry with a love of writing about anything and everything in tow.
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