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British study: Workers take only 22 minutes for lunch

Illustration for article titled British study: Workers take only 22 minutes for lunchem/em
Photo: Daisy-Daisy (iStock)

Look, I get it. There are many mornings when I sternly tell myself, “You are leaving the building for lunch today.” But often, I get caught up in some workplace labyrinth of meetings and emails, and before I know it, it’s 2 p.m. and I’m trolling the office, scrounging for whatever free food I may have had the forethought to stash in my desk (for the record, a bag of Cheez-Its makes for a poor late lunch).

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So I was not exactly surprised by the findings of this survey of more than 800 workers by not-for-profit health body ukactive and Sodexo, reported in The Telegraph today. The research discovered that “the average lunch break has fallen from an average of 33 minutes in 2012 to 22 minutes today,” not really leaving the worker enough time to leave the building and go for a stroll, but probably just enough time to wolf a sad sandwich while perusing Instagram before heading back to one’s desk.

This finding is a bit more surprising: “nearly one in five workers never leave their desk during lunchtime.” Glancing around my own workplace, I think more people eat at their desks than don’t. The study points to health-conscious developments like standing desks, but that still doesn’t involve some actual physical activity like walking out to lunch would. In fact, while most workers say they wanted to exercise more, “three quarters said their workload got in the way”; that same amount also reported doing no physical activity during their lunch break.

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Look, we’re all busy. But unless you’re a heart surgeon or something, is the job really that important that you can’t take a half-hour? And by “you,” I mean “me.” Sure the Don Draper era might have been a bit unhealthy with the Lucky Strike cigarettes and in-office bar carts, but at least those guys knew how to take a three-hour lunch.

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.

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DISCUSSION

gizhipocrisy
GizHipocrisy

A lot of people are in an abusive relationship with their job, and they internalize their bad working conditions until they feel like those bad conditions are a choice. An employer who really cares about their workers will cultivate an atmosphere and culture that make it clear that lunch time (of whatever duration) should be time for the employees and not for doing work.