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Dining ‘al desko’

Kelly Feehan

New research released today by wellbeing charity CABA has found that nearly a fifth (19 percent) of employees in London worry about being judged negatively for taking a lunch break. This figure is far higher than any other region in the UK, and the national average of 6 percent. Comment from Kelly Feehan, Services Director at CABA.

The research also highlighted that nearly a quarter (23 percent) of employees and managers regularly eat lunch at their desks because their workload is too heavy. A figure that increased for those working in the public administration and defence sector (35 percent) closely followed by those in the financial and business industries (31 percent). When looking at gender, the research revealed that women are 5 percent more likely than men to dine ‘al desko’. However, men were twice as likely to be concerned about being judged negatively for leaving their desks for lunch. Interestingly, the data also suggests that the millennials are bucking the trend of dining ‘al desko’. Of those aged 18-25 only 14 percent are inclined to eat at their desk, however almost a fifth (19 percent) always go out for lunch. Compared with one in four (26 percent) employees aged 45-54 who are the most likely to eat lunch at their desk. Older staff aged 55+ are the most conscious that eating at their desk is not good for their health (13 percent).

Kelly Feehan, Services Director at CABA, commented: “Sometimes, when we are under pressure to fulfil a task and meet a deadline, eating lunch at your desk seems like a productive way to kill two birds with one stone. In reality however, powering through can be counterintuitive. Taking a break from your desk and particularly a computer screen is essential to wellbeing. Just half an hour allows your brain to process the information you have learnt that morning, and enables you to switch off before going back to work that afternoon. In winter, with less daylight and colder temperatures, employees are less inclined to stray from their desks. However, never underestimate the benefits of a quick walk and some fresh air. Leaving the office for a lunch break is a great way to recharge and the exercise releases feel-good endorphins, enabling us to be more productive when we return to our desks and reducing the chance of stress and burnout.

It is concerning that a fifth (19 percent) of mid-level staff are most likely to eat at their desk because of peer pressure. Managers and employers have a joint responsibility to ensure regular breaks are taken throughout the day. However, employees can often feel embarrassed to leave their desks, as they do not want to appear to be slacking in front of their peers and senior management. It is essential that Managers set a precedent for their employees, creating a workplace culture where staff feel comfortable to leave their desk for lunch.”

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