Long gone is the two-hour, two-martini lunch that was the mainstay of the 1950s and ’60s. Eating lunch at your desk, once considered something done only under unusual circumstances, has now become the norm. In fact, according to a Gallup Poll, two-thirds of American workers eat at their desks more than once a week!
Interestingly, eating at your desk has become a huge problem for IT departments (think spilled drinks and keyboards that are clogged with food crumbs). But, also human resource departments have gotten involved, trying to find common ground between employees who want to eat at their desks and co-workers who object to the practice.
There are always two sides to the coin. At EnjoyFresh we’re in favor of people eating at their desk, provided they’re doing other things to stay mentally and physically healthy, and that they’re choosing to eat fresh, healthy meals.
Reasons Why We Eat at Our Desks
- Heavier Workloads. It’s not a surprise that most companies these days are doing more with less to try and keep their bottom line healthy. That means the same or increased workloads, but accomplishing it with fewer people. Employees understand this, but will eat at their desk rather going out for lunch because it means they might get to leave at 6pm vs. 6:30pm.
- No convenient access to cafeterias or restaurants. It could be the polar vortex sweeping through the Midwest or snow storms on the east coast, even heatwaves in the Southeast that keep employees inside or prefer not having to leave the building. If you don’t have access to a cafeteria or nearby restaurants (and last night’s meatloaf just isn’t appetizing) then what are your options?
- Replacing lunch with errands or exercise. Many office workers eat at their desk every day. They do this so they can fit more into their day. They use the time, what would normally be considered their lunch break to run errands or exercise. This is a really common practice for moms who are working outside the home either full or part-time. Just having an extra 30 minutes to pick up the dry cleaning or do some shopping for the family can make or break your day.
- Healthier eating habits. Some workers are eating several small meals a day, as recommended by numerous dietary studies. Others are shying away from going out for lunch, wanting to skip the typical greasy, fried fast food and bring their own meals from home. Or, some have discovered ordering lunch online, to be delivered to their office location. At EnjoyFresh, we have just launched a new downtown Orlando lunch delivery service, that provides downtown office works with amazing gourmet quality meals freshly prepared by local Orlando chefs, and delivered to your office for $10 or less!
- Not wanting to interrupt the workflow. Many people are project-oriented so prefer not to take a break in the middle just to eat. And some people just don’t like sitting a break or lunch room because it’s monotonous and a waste of time (when they could be eating at their desk and working too).
- Being a lunch martyr. Yes, you know the ones. People who are trying to create the impression of being a dedicated employee willing to go the extra mile.
Reasons Why Not to Eat at Your Desk
- It can be really annoying to co-workers. Not everyone is going to love the food you eat. Some people will object to the aromas and even hygiene issues eating at your desk present. In fact, some companies ban it. The bans typically target food allergies, pungent odors, messes being made in shared work spaces, or leftover/discarded food that could attract insects and rodents.
- Employees who deal directly with customers — such as a dental office receptionist — almost always are forbidden to eat at their desks, and some employers feel that it’s better to have the same non-eating rules for everyone rather than let some partake and others not.
- If you’re sitting at your desk, you’re not building those relationships that are good for your career. Being successful in the workplace is about building relationships. You can’t do that sitting at your desk.
- Increased stress levels. Staying at your desk all day, most of the time, can lead to increased stress levels, reduced productivity, absenteeism, employee turnover, compensation claims, health insurance and medical expenses.
How You Can Make Eating at Your Desk A Good Thing
- Of course, if you use your lunch break for, say, exercising, you still face the issue of eating at your desk when you return. There are some basic rules that will help you do that without irritating those at adjoining desks.
- Avoid food with strong aromas (unless you know your office mates won’t object). Food with too much as garlic or heavy ethnic spices, for instance.
- Stick with quiet food. Stay away from things that make a lot of noise when you eat them, like potato chips and, perhaps, soup — some people slurp their soup.
- Be mindful of your waste. If you have leftovers or packaging to dispose of, don’t throw it in your office or cubical trash can. Instead, take it to a break-room waste or recycle receptacle Don’t stack up empty takeout containers on your desk. If you share a work space, be sure to clean up all the crumbs and spills.
- Also be mindful of the image you’re projecting. When you’re sitting at your desk eating, it’s easy to project the image that you’re unapproachable.
- Finally, whether you bring lunch from home, pick up take-out or order lunch online for delivery, make sure you’re eating healthy and fresh food. At EnjoyFresh, our goal is to make lunch breaks delicious and healthy, through just a few clicks on the website. Or better yet, if you must work through lunch, order your EnjoyFresh meal, and when delivered, take it with your laptop or iPad outside and work in the fresh air and sunshine for a few minutes!
By Cyndy Sandor for EnjoyFresh
Coming Soon: Chef Spotlights on Really Cool Orlando Chefs that are Part of the EnjoyFresh Network.
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