Although we know that eating lunch at your desk is a bad idea, employees still default to having their midday meals at their workspaces, in between completing tasks. Looking at the habits of how Canadian workers spend their time during their lunch breaks, research found that nearly half (49%) of employees use their time surfing the web or browsing social media, followed by 45% of employees that socialize with their co-workers. The study also found that 38% of respondents stay at their desks to catch up on personal emails and calls, while one third (32%) continue to do work.
Human Resources Director Canada emphasizes the importance of an effective lunch hour at the office: “Even on the busiest days, it’s important for professionals to maximize the time they’re given for lunch and try to step away from their desks to refresh and refocus for the afternoon”.
From team bonding to mental health and wellness improvements, there are many benefits to maximizing lunch breaks with your people in the workplace.
Particularly with work from home, taking a designated lunch break is increasingly important, but also can be challenging.
It’s no secret that working from home has blurred the boundaries between work and home. Employees may be working longer hours, finishing up quick tasks on their breaks, checking in while on vacation and more.
Employees should be encouraged to take their breaks during the day, whether just an informal step away from their work to take a quick walk or grab a coffee, or their formal lunch hour. Leaders should make sure their employees actually take the time to eat their lunch and take a rest. Encourage employees to set themselves as away online and not respond to any emails or messages for the entirety of their break.
Ensuring employees take a proper break during their workday is critical to their success—and yours.
Here are some of the ways you can ensure that employees are utilizing their office lunch hour:
Workplace wellness challenges
Workplace wellness challenges can do wonders in building an office environment that promotes teamwork, health, and fitness. This concept can easily be incorporated through lunchtime activities at the office. Pre-COVID at Rise, we ran a healthy eating challenge to encourage team members to choose to eat local BC produce and goods, which had positive impacts on our people's nutritional intake as well as knowledge and awareness. On the fitness side, we've been known to spontaneously gather people together for planking and stretching challenges. It’s a nice way to get your employees away from their desks to do something active, and makes for some great laughs as well.
Lunch and learns
If learning and development is an important part of your company culture—which it should be—you should consider inviting thought leaders from the community, as well as your own in-house experts, to share their knowledge on subjects of interest to your team members. In the past at Rise, we’ve had invigorating discussions with health practitioners and financial planners, and our own team members have passed on everything from social media best practices to Excel spreadsheet tips and tricks.
Lead by example
Of course, it’s important that leaders set an example for their team members during office lunch hour, rather than only encouraging their employees to take a break. Make sure that you step away from your work as well to have a bite to eat, relax, socialize, or whatever you need to do to ensure the rest of your workday is as good as it can be.