After years of school, a true testament to how institutionalised I have become is when I began my first job in an office, only to find that lunch breaks are not scenes of breaks in the great outdoors, but endless hours being chained to a desk. As a young person who has just entered the adult workplace this is a culture I am slowly acclimatising to. The idea that a traditional eight hour day can be interrupted by a stroll through the streets to enjoy a sandwich is unthinkable to many. The level of work to complete in the restrictions of 9 to 5 could make even Dolly go dizzy. As a teenager who lives for pillaging the Boots meal deal aisle, this is a startling new practice that threatens my sanity.
In a world where productivity is paramount, studies conducted by Tork found that 13% of North American workers think their co-workers would negatively judge them if they take a regular lunch break. Whilst it is a relatively low statistic, it should worry businesses that the perception that others have on us, real or assumed, could have this much of an impact on our basic human needs.
Simply put, our minds can benefit from rest. Employees should not feel self conscious about their desire for an hour to themselves, argues Jennifer Deal, a research scientist from the University of Southern California. “Taking time away for a lunch break can help to reduce stress, increase engagement, and restore energy levels, making employees feel more effective and productive back at the office.”
Instead of self medicating with caffeine to avoid our heads from banging down onto our desks, perhaps workers need to get away from the desk itself. So as 15th of June marks another obscure national day, it serves as a reminder that work is not the be all and end all. In order to achieve true fulfillment in the workplace, the modern answer may not be as simple as the millennial model of funky office design, as demonstrated by Google HQ. Instead the key may be found in rewarding yourself, and taking time away from the office. Then your lunch break will be a walk in the park.