The COVID epidemic has had a profound impact on how and where people work. Increasingly over the past five years, much attention has been paid to the future of work in post-COVID times and where most work will take place. Employees and employers alike wonder, is remote work here to stay? Will full-time, in-office work ever be the norm again?
But a recent survey conducted by Opinium Research on behalf of Little Leaf Farms reveals another interesting workplace trend: Three in four (76%) non-remote corporate workers are eating lunch at their desk at least half the time, or more.¹
Is this the future of lunch in the office?
According to the survey, 68 percent of workers who take lunch at their desk indicate that they prefer eating lunch at their desk. These workers explain that “it’s convenient” (56%) and they “feel more productive” (43%) as their primary reasons.
The survey also found that 73% of office workers plan to bring their own lunch to work as often or more often this year with the top motivator being that “it’s healthier” (68%). Perhaps not surprisingly, Gen Z is especially likely to say they plan to bring lunch from home more often to save money (58%).
What To Do About Sad Desk Lunch?
The choice to dine deskside does come with plenty of etiquette landmines. The survey indicates that the biggest obstacle workers have when eating lunch at their desks is not the location, but meetings scheduled during this important time of day.
Two-thirds (67%) of workers report they have meetings scheduled during the lunch hour at least once a week. While nearly half (49%) of workers are okay with scheduling meetings during the lunch hour if it’s an urgent matter, (33%) find it rude no matter what. Gen Z and Gen X (38% each) find it especially rude compared to Millennials (32%); women (36%) are also more likely than men (28%) to think that it is rude to book meetings during lunch.
If a meeting is booked during a lunch hour, nearly half (45%) of workers will multi-task and eat lunch at least half the time. For video-based meetings, only 7% of workers always keep cameras on while eating. The main reasons workers decide to turn cameras off are because they think it’s rude (58%) or because they don’t want people to see them chewing (49%).
There are memes and entire websites devoted to “sad desk lunch.” Bloomberg.com launched a “Sad Desk Salad” advice column named in honor of the phenomenon. To help office workers set lunchtime boundaries and ensure their desk lunches are truly “happy,” Little Leaf Farms turned to office etiquette influencer Corporate Natalie for a few tips:
- Set boundaries that help you prioritize an actual lunch break. One easy way to do this is blocking off 30 minutes each day so that you can count on having a midday break where you can enjoy your lunch in peace. Even if you’re eating it at your desk, a meeting-free meal will give you a bit of a mental breather.
- Being in the corporate world usually means running from one thing to the next all day long, so choose a better-for-you lunch packed with veggies that keeps you going. Something convenient like Little Leaf Farms Salad Kits taste great, come with all the ingredients you need and stay fresh much longer than other salad kits. They’re also handy for when you can’t (or just don’t want to) meal prep.
- Most of us eat lunch at our desks — but desk lunch days don’t have to be sad. Throw on your headphones and jam to some good music, get yourself a fancy placemat to save your keyboard from crumbs, grab a linen napkin and a real fork and dig in!
In another effort to help desk lunch devotees make their midday meal a bit more merry, Little Leaf Farms created a Happy Desk Salad Kit that contains “everything needed to turn any desk lunch into a five-star dining event.”
“Somewhere along the lines the desk salad got seriously maligned and became the symbol of a less-than stellar office lunch experience,” explained Jeannie Hannigan, Senior Brand Manager at Little Leaf Farms. “We’re here to change that perception. Little Leaf Farms is just as serious about leveling up lunchtime as we are about growing a longer-lasting, fresher, more sustainable lettuce.
“Upon learning just how many corporate workers are committed to eating better and saving money this year, we knew we needed to do our part to spice things up a little,” she continued. “There’s no reason a desk salad can’t be a five-star dining event and the Happy Desk Salad Kit is sure to take those desk lunches up a few notches.”
The limited-edition Little Leaf Farms Happy Desk Salad Kit includes a desk shade for privacy; a desktop candelabra with three battery-operated candlesticks; a personal water bottle chiller; a washable, custom placemat with spots marked for lunch essentials; a fork, linen napkin, and napkin ring; and a Little Leaf Farms Crispy Caesar Salad Kit. You can enter to win one here!
¹ Survey conducted by Opinium Research among a sample of 1,000 U.S. adults who work hybrid or in-person desk jobs. The survey was completed December 12-19, 2023.