How many times have you been so deep into your work that you ended up having your lunch on your desk or skipping it altogether? You are not alone.
Over recent years, workers have continuously sacrificed their lunch breaks in order to focus on the tasks at hand, get ahead on projects, or catch up on any pending emails. International studies have found that workers continue to skip their lunch breaks, even though the vast majority of them agree that stopping for a period of time helps with productivity.
This trend has not been helped by work-from-home policies brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, essentially placing lunch breaks to the very bottom of workers’ priorities. Remote work has prompted them to work increased hours, busier schedules, and less time off than they were used to when working at the office, and a US-based study found that 60 per cent of employees working from home feel guilty taking breaks during work-from-home hours.
Shedding a spotlight on the “quiet disappearance of traditional office lunch breaks” on Monday, Aaron Buhagiar, Co-Founder of office catering company Garnish Malta, stated that it is time for business leaders to address this trend.
“It turns out, a lot of employees are skipping their lunch breaks to meet deadlines or manage workloads. But here’s the thing: skipping lunch might seem productive in the short term, but it can lead to burnout and decreased productivity in the long run,” he stressed.
He pointed out that business leaders must encourage their teams to take their lunch breaks “seriously”.
Many remote workers have opted to swap their planned lunch breaks to a number of unplanned snack breaks, all while juggling calls and videoconferences. Others have opted to order out for lunch and dinner rather than prepare a meal themselves, either because of stress, fatigue, or lack of time. This is not only unhealthy, but also very damaging to one’s funds.
“This isn’t just about grabbing a bite; it’s about stepping away from the desk, refreshing our minds, and coming back stronger,” Mr Buhagiar said. He remarked that business leaders must set an example and stop for their own lunch breaks as well.
Additionally, he stated that business leaders need to recognise the value of joining the rest of the staff for lunch.
“Sitting down with our teams during these breaks is more than a social activity; it’s a powerful tool for building trust, understanding challenges firsthand, and fostering a culture openness,” he continued.
Julian Goffin, Founder of Malta-based consulting company Lunulata Ltd, was in agreement with Mr Buhagiar, noting that the wellbeing of employees “should not step aside” to business leaders wanting more from them.
“I have heard of so many things in the last months of how staff are treated in places, how they are stopped from having breaks because of deadlines, how they are requested to work through. Are these not counterproductive?” he remarked, emphasising that this contributes to negativity at the workplace and staff burnout.
Garnish Malta Co-Founder Aaron Buhagiar / LinkedIn
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