This is an interesting thought, and frankly, eating at my desk is something I am totally guilty of.
“Lunch breaks play a particularly vital role when it comes to maintaining our mental stamina, says John P. Trougakos, an organizational behavior professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough. In an aptly titled study, “Lunch Breaks Unpacked,” Trougakos and his colleagues found that being able to disconnect from work at lunchtime, for an activity entirely of your own choosing, was linked to a reduction of fatigue at the end of the workday and improved employee performance and wellbeing.”
Remote working makes it pretty easy to grab a bite and eat in front of our work. For those of us who work with teams in varying time zones, this is beyond common, because oftentimes meetings are scheduled during the time we get hungry for lunch anyway. I work with a bunch of people on the West Coast. They like to schedule mid-morning meetings. That’s right about noon for me, and it’s just too easy to hop on the audio call and eat my lunch during that time without stopping to consider what that means for the rest of my day.
On the flip side, my early mornings tend to be pretty quiet, and I get to sort of ease my way into the work day, over coffee and maybe the latest industry news. Unless I’m working on projects with folks in the EU, where I have the opposite problem.
Then, naturally, when I’m working on separate projects with both types of teams above, I can get it coming and going. Catching up with the EU first thing in the morning and interacting with the West Coast late in the day.
And don’t even get me started on what it was like working for a company based in Australia back in the day. 😉
My point in describing these things is not to brag about how much work I do or how many teams I interact with but to point out that it’s easy to find your time and energy completely blocked and scheduled for you. Fighting burnout means protecting, and sometimes fighting for, your free time, including a lunch break.
Employers interested in not burning out their employees would also do well to recognize that. As the article below points out, remote working gives us all a lot more flexibility to take breaks and then do some of our work on our schedule since we no longer have to commute or be in a location, but that doesn’t mean you work all day, and then also into the night.
Breaks matter. Balance matters. Remote work is a great way to find your level of flexibility and provide it to your employees. I suggest you figure that out.