Working Lunch: How to encourage people to leave their desks

The average American workplace is more hectic than ever. Employees often spend their days scrambling to complete tasks and stay on schedule. A byproduct of this trend is the working lunch where workers remain at their desks in an attempt to be more productive. Unfortunately, this often comes at a cost and can actually do more harm than good.


Breaks Help Sustain Concentration

At first glance, you might assume that formal breaks would minimize productivity. Each minute an employee is away from their desk, zero work is getting done. But when you look at the bigger picture, it’s clear that a working lunch increases productivity.

According to Kimberly Elsbach, a management professor at UC-Davis who studies the psychology of the workplace, “Never taking a break from very careful thought work actually reduces your ability to be creative. It sort of exhausts your cognitive capacity and you’re not able to make the creative connections you can if your brain is more rested. If you’re skipping lunch to continue to push forward in a very intense cognitive capacity, then you’re probably not doing yourself any favors.”

Taking a proper break enables the mind to rest, which helps sustain deeper levels of concentration throughout the day. This results in higher energy and better focus. Otherwise, a working lunch gradually drains your employees’ energy and depletes their psychological resources.


Encouraging Employees to Leave Their Desks

As an employer, you should make a concerted effort to make sure that your employees get away from their desks for a lunch break. This starts by ensuring that you have adequate manpower throughout the day. To keep up with demand you may need to assign your employees different times for lunch breaks so that there’s little overlap in your scheduling.

You have two basic options for enabling your workers to step away. One is to set up a break room or an area where workers can relax or take a lunch break and completely unplug from their jobs for a while. This gives them a chance to socialize and take care of their personal needs.

You may even want to provide your employees with healthy food options to create a culture of health. Check out this resource from The American Heart Association for more on this.

The other option is to provide them with a designated block of time to leave the workplace. For instance, they may go to a restaurant or cafe to take a break. Whichever route you decide on, it’s important that they’re able to fully take their minds off of work because this will help them recuperate and recharge their batteries.

The concept of a working lunch has become alarmingly common in many of today’s companies. However, it’s something that should be discouraged. Employees should be encouraged to take a proper break. This can have a positive impact on your employees’ health, improve their cognitive functioning and boost productivity.


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