In TMACC’s office, when the lunch hour rolls around, nothing much changes. Very rarely does a staff member get up from their desk to take a lunch break, and studies show we are not alone. In fact, according to a survey completed by Right Management, less than 1 in 5 people take an actual lunch break, some people (about 28%) don’t even eat.
This must mean that people forgoing a lunch break are productive people, right? The researched answer is no, and a simple comparison can explain why. When you lift something heavy for a long period of time, your muscles get fatigued. Eventually, you have to take a break or your muscles give out on you. Your brain is like any other muscle in your body. If you don’t take a break during your work day, your brain figuratively “gives out”.
It seems to be common sense to take a break, but more and more people are spending longer periods of time in the office. According to one study, 20% of employees feel guilty for stepping away from their desks. However, that same study states that 90% of employers encourage breaks. So where is the disparity?
An organization’s culture can be to blame, states Senior Vice President of Right Management, Michael Haid. If 4 out of every 5 workers in the workplace are staying at their desk during the lunch hour, then employees who want to take a break feel as if they aren’t working as hard as the majority of their coworkers. Hence, why they feel guilty.
If other employees are to blame, then how can we change it? Yen Ha, co-host of the Lunch Studio blog, says to create a Lunchtime Manifesto for your company. “[A lunchtime manifesto] really supports the idea that even if you can’t afford to eat lunch out, it’s still important that you leave your office, that you’re not eating lunch in front of your desk, in front of a computer, that you change up your scenery from time to time, or take a break.”
Even though employers are encouraging breaks, they are not incorporating it into their daily operations like a Lunchtime Manifesto would. Professor Kimberly Elsbach of UC Davis Graduate School of Management says they have to create a community that surrounds the manifesto. Elsbach suggests setting up an electronic form that explains what activities are going on during the day, such as eating lunch at a new restaurant or walking around the local environment. This encourages workers to get up from their desks because they see other people doing it.
Here in the TMACC Office, Executive Director, Tim Phelps has becomed concerned about staff. He asks are we being creative in our collaboration? Are we living the active lifestyle we promote through alternative mobility options? He thinks we could be doing a better job if we worked a Lunchtime Manifesto into our work days.
So what is TMACC proposing to do that other companies practice to do too?
For one, there is the beautiful Chester Valley Trail that is easily accessible to the employees of the Great Valley Corporate Center and King of Prussia business district that goes all the way to Exton. Suggest going for a team walk during the day to clear your heads and generate creative thinking.
Try eating somewhere new, like the hosts of the Lunch Studio blog do. Check out your local chamber’s of commerce website for local restaurants. Make a list of everywhere you would like to try and eat in your area, and ask coworkers to go along with you.
If you need to choose the company cafeteria be creative in disconnecting. Ask someone to lead a “non-work” topic discussion such as food, wine, baseball, exciting restaurants in other cities, and more. Make sure that if you’re using the cafeteria then you try to turn off from work, so you can really boost your creativity.
For more suggestions, follow our Monday Morning Memo where we will be explaining activities TMACC staff is planning to establish as our Lunchtime Manifesto.