NEW YORK — Are lunch breaks becoming old fashioned? A new survey finds that half of American workers feel like stepping out to eat for 30 minutes or an hour is more of an infrequent treat than an a required office policy.
The survey of 2,000 workers, commissioned by England’s Best, found that intense workloads or the pressure to finish a project is leading more employees to stay put during a typical workday. Fifty-one percent admit it’s rare for them to take a full lunch break, and three in 10 say they wind up eating at their desks most of the time. In fact, participants admit they’re more likely eat at the desk than any other location, with the perception that it leads to productivity being the most common reason.
As if that’s not shocking enough, 49 percent of respondents actually say that lunch breaks distract them from getting work done.
Interestingly, how a person feels about taking breaks may depend on his or her age. Most workers in the 18-44 demographic felt that full lunch breaks were not realistic, whereas those over 45 still viewed them as a part of the job.
Instead, many employees now find themselves snacking throughout the day. The survey showed that 68 percent of respondents nosh on snacks twice a day, while 30 percent snack three times or more.
“As the workplace shifts, so does the traditional lunch hour. With the average lunch ‘hour’ now likely to be 30 minutes or less, American workers are now snacking at least twice a day, not surprisingly between breakfast and lunch, and then when hunger strikes again between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.,” says Kimberly Murphy, Director of New Ventures and Innovation at England’s Best, in a statement.
With snacking seemingly being the new trend, it shouldn’t be any surprise that 44 percent of workers admit to having a “snack drawer” designated for their work rations. Though most workers’ snacks tend to be pre-packaged goods bought at the local supermarket, a quarter of respondents will simply hit up the break room vending machine for a quick bite when needed.
Meanwhile, just because Americans aren’t leaving their desks for lunch doesn’t mean they’re not getting up at all. Three-quarters of respondents say they use break time to take a daily walk, though the reason behind the walk ranges from getting exercise (63 percent) to needing time for a clear head (57 percent), or to just de-stress (43 percent). Half of respondents also like to go for a stroll to simply enjoy the weather.
But perhaps workers should consider using their break time to actually eat outside the office. Half of respondents find using that time to do nothing else but eat lunch leaves them feeling refreshed. Conversely, eating at the desk seems to have a slew of negative effects, including feeling tired (44 percent), stressed (31 percent), overwhelmed (24 percent), and anxious (20 percent).
The survey was conducted by OnePoll between June 13 and June 20 this year.