It’s a depressing scene. Someone’s sitting alone at their desk during lunchtime clutching a soggy sandwich that comes dangerously close to dripping a bland sauce onto their keyboard. While never removing their eyes from their work, they reach for a napkin. But the sauce drips too quickly. Now, they try to clean the keyboard but only succeed in typing random characters into their document. They look defeated as their computer screen casts a monochromatic glow on their face while they try to complete work that they believe will never get finished.
That’s just sad.
What your coworker, who is psychologically chained to their desk, doesn’t realize is that their work will get finished and what they really need to do is to take a refreshing break. We all get a lunch break for a reason. It’s a time for us to relax and give our bodies the fuel they need to work through the rest of the day.
The New York Times reported that roughly 62% of professionals say they typically eat lunch at their desks. It’s a phenomenon that social scientists have begun calling “desktop dining.” And, it’s a phenomenon that is as unproductive as it is unsatisfying.
Eating Lunch at Your Desk Is Bad for You
There are several reasons why desktop dining is bad for you. Think about these things the next time you are considering eating lunch at your desk.
Your desk is filthy. According to one survey, the average desk has 100 times more bacteria than a kitchen table and 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet. Now, just think about eating at a place that’s nastier than your toilet. Okay. The study was funded by Clorox. But that fact doesn’t mean your desk isn’t filthy.
Even if you have the cleanest desk in the office, eating there still has an impact on your health. When you eat at your desk, you’re likely to snack throughout the day. This means you’ll consume more calories. And, that leads to weight gain. It’s called mindless eating. Your body is so preoccupied by work that your brain doesn’t keep track of the amount of food you’re eating. So, you’re always sort of hungry.
Also, when you eat at your desk, you miss out on the joy of eating. Most people who pack lunch to eat at their desk assemble a meal that they intend to enjoy. Even if you’ve made a sandwich that ends up soggy by lunchtime, you would enjoy that sandwich more if you ate it in a relaxed environment away from your desk.
Not only is desktop dining unproductive and unsatisfying, it detracts from your sense of connectedness with your coworkers. You miss out on important opportunities to socialize and nurture valuable relationships.
And, eating at your desk is no longer impressive. It doesn’t communicate industriousness. It just says that you’re catching up on Facebook posts and you want to be left alone. Even if you’re an introvert, that’s probably not the message you want to send to your coworkers.
Stop Eating Lunch at Your Desk
Sometimes knowing that something isn’t good for you isn’t enough for you to stop doing it. You need help—a small push away from your desk and toward the office community.
One way that your employer can support you in your effort to eat lunch away from your desk is to provide you with Lunch as a Benefit (LaaB). When you receive LaaB, you can forget about the soggy sandwich. You’ll receive a lunch that you select from a menu with delicious options.
LaaB ends the work-through-lunch sadness by getting you up from your desk to pick up your lunch from the delivery area. You’ll get to stand up and get a bit of exercise. And, you’ll enjoy your lunch while socializing with coworkers.
Please stop desktop dining. Instead, ask your employer about Lunch as a Benefit.