The lunch “hour” may be a concept of the past, according to a new survey from staffing firm OfficeTeam.
When asked how long they take for lunch, more than half of workers (56 percent) said their typical lunch break lasts 30 minutes or less. That answer differs significantly by location, however: Among professionals in the 28 U.S. cities surveyed, workers in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Miami reported taking the longest lunches, while employees in Salt Lake City, Des Moines, and Cincinnati have the shortest breaks.
What are workers doing at lunch, besides eating? Respondents said they most frequently surf the internet or social media (52 percent), followed by catching up on personal calls or emails (51 percent). That’s up from 27 percent and 25 percent, respectively, from a 2014 survey. Twenty-nine percent of professionals confessed to working during lunch.
“Even if only 30 minutes or less are available due to workloads or company guidelines, professionals should try to maximize lunch breaks to relax and recharge a bit,” said Brandi Britton, district president for OfficeTeam. “These days, people are quick to turn to their mobile devices to pass the time, but it can be a nice change of pace and good for relationship building to eat with colleagues.”
- Workers ages 18 to 34 (60 percent) most often surf the web or social media during lunch, compared to those ages 35 to 54 (55 percent) and 55 and older (34 percent).
- Professionals in Phoenix, Boston, and Washington, DC, work the most on their lunch breaks.
- Employees in Miami, New York, Houston, and San Diego most frequently socialize with colleagues during their breaks.
- San Francisco, Chicago, and Cincinnati may be the most health-conscious, with the largest number of respondents who exercise or take a walk during lunchtime.
OfficeTeam offered five tips for workers to maximize lunch breaks:
- Have a well-balanced meal. Don’t skip what a midday break is intended for: eating. Choose nutritious foods that provide energy for the rest of the day.
- Get to know colleagues. Socializing with coworkers or your manager over lunch can strengthen connections. You could also network with contacts from other departments.
- Track professional goals. Use the time to meet with your mentor to discuss career progress.
- Step away from work. Getting out and taking a real break can help you return to the office more productive. Try exercising or walking to clear your mind.
- Take time for yourself. Running errands or taking care of personal tasks during lunch can result in a shorter to-do list later.
The survey includes responses from more than 2,800 workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments in 28 major U.S. cities.