SURVEY SAYS: Do You Do lunch?

February 3, 2014 ( – Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, Do you take a break from work for lunch?

I assumed the way I phrased the question made it clear that for survey purposes, a lunch break means there is no working done during that time, but we’ll get to that later.

More than half (55.4%) of responding readers indicated that yes, they do take a break for lunch, whether they eat or not. More than four in ten (43.2%) said they do not.

Of those who typically take a lunch break, 46% reported they take 45 minutes to one hour, 19.5% take 15 minutes or less, 13.3% take 16 to 30 minutes, and 18.6% take 31 to 45 minutes. Nearly 3% indicated they take more than an hour for a lunch break.

When asked how they spend their time during lunch breaks, besides eating, more than four in ten (44.5%) said they use the time to run errands or shop. Reading was the next most-favored activity, selected by 38.3% of respondents, followed by surfing the Web or online shopping, chosen by 35.2%.

Nearly thirty percent indicated they use their lunch break to socialize with coworkers, while 26.6% use it to exercise/take a walk, 25% to handle personal calls or e-mails or social media accounts, and 10.9% to socialize with friends other than coworkers. More than one quarter (26.6%) offered “other” responses, although here is where the definition of “lunch break” comes in, as many listed work, handle work-related e-mails and calls, and business meetings.

“Other” responses not covered in the survey included: reading PLANSPONSOR or NewsDash and other business-related publications (although some may lump this into “work”), napping, studying, dealing with family projects/issues, paying bills, playing games, going home to relax or clean, knitting/crocheting, and watching TV.

In verbatim responses, many readers said taking a break from work for lunch is needed to distress, reenergize and refocus, while others explained their reasoning for continuing to work during lunch. Some reported they try to take a lunch break, but if often gets interrupted, with some describing a very hectic “nosh” as their “lunch.” But, a few also described relaxing lunch scenarios. Editor’s Choice this week goes to the reader who said: “Having worked through lunch for years, I not only now take an hour break, but have lost 20 pounds! Oh the irony…”


I am the HR Director and try to be a role model. Four time each week I attend an exercise class or a yoga class with one free day to run around.


I almost always take a lunch break. It's extremely rare when I don't. I like getting away from my desk for lunch. It breaks up the day, and I also like to have a good lunch every day. I am rushed to get a leisurely lunch done in 45 minutes. Occasionally, I'm allowed to take an hour. Then, I try to do an errand or reading in addition to having lunch.


I not only eat lunch at my desk, but I also eat breakfast at my desk.


I usually eat at my desk and work through lunch. It beats eating alone somewhere. I go out for lunch if a co-worker wants to do lunch.


Listen up folks: you're replaceable. Take a break and eat a sandwich. Your phone, email and social media accounts will be fine without your input for 30 minutes.


Without a mental break, I really suffer later in the day.


I usually start my lunchtime by reading in a room we have that has a small couch that no one uses. After about 15 minutes I take a quick nap using my cell phone's alarm to wake me to finish up my day. Sometimes I don't want to leave the room because I'm so comfortable!


8 - 5 ….I should take a 1 hour lunch but more than 75% of the time I eat at my desk while working. My boss still doesn't think I work enough…...


Many days my lunch time is interrupted by business calls.


Even if I have a lot to do, I find that I can concentrate better, get more done, and do a better quality work when I take a break at lunch.


I usually just eat at my desk but I try to go out to lunch at least a couple times a month.


In spite of comments from the walking fanatic in our office, I prefer the time to read and relax at lunch. I already hit the gym 5 days a week, and have a dog that has to be walked regularly, so I don't need a "mother" telling me I should be using my lunch hour to walk!


Although I often read at my desk, the best breaks are when I actually leave the building and get some fresh air.


There should be respect by co-workers, supervisors, clients/customers that an individual is trying to have a lunch break. In my office it doesn't matter that you are eating they want immediate attention to their issue. The only time I get a lunch break is when I leave the office and shut off my phone. Technology seems to fuel the demand for immediate action on issues - answer my text, email etc now or else!


Lunch, I'm lucky if I get a break for dinner! I pretty much eat dry cereal at my desk 3 meals a day.


I find that taking the time off and going for a jog recharges my batteries and keep me going strong til quitting time.


There is more and more to do in less and less time. If others are at lunch, I get a little uninterrupted time to work


I typically eat lunch at my desk while answering work e-mails and doing research. Once or twice a week I take an actual break and go to the gym, then eat lunch back at my desk while I answer e-mails and do research.


With two small children, my lunch break is the only time I can run quick errands without having to figure out how to bribe my 2 yr. old for good behavior and insure the baby won't decide she's hungry. Thank god Target is only 10 min away from my office.


Taking lunch is a seasonal treat and I take "advantage" of it when I can. It balances out the majority of the year that I'm running to get everything done, let alone stop to eat.


what lunch?


I definitely need the break for lunch, although I find that the reading may include work-related periodicals or research


My co-worker and I take a break eat together in one of our offices and try to talk about non-work issues. We do this so we are not interrupted or besieged by employees in our cafe. Unfortunately we are still interrupted by someone on their break who stops by with questions or we end up discussing pressing work issues.


sometimes it isn't possible to take a lunch break, but i do whenever i can because my brain needs it. focusing on something other than work for even just 10-15 min helps me return to work refreshed & to feel better the rest of the afternoon.


It feels like I would just have to work later if I took a lunch break. There's so much work to be done, and I'd rather go home before 7pm than take 30 minutes in the middle of the day. I know that may not be the healthiest choice, but I am used to eating at my desk and working.

Verbatim (cont.)

I need to start taking a break. The few times I do stop and actually take a lunch it relaxes me and make me more productive the rest of the day. But with so much to do, I feel I need to keep running and not stop to eat. It is better than having to work late.


I take 60 minutes for lunch and boy do I need every minute away from my desk!


Having come from a job where I had to work through lunch most days, it is nice to have that time away from my desk to be able to recharge for the afternoon. It is much needed.


I need to focus on something other than work for at least half an hour midday or I'm completely unfocused all afternoon.


This is less a lunch break than a sanity break. I need the time to mentally disengage and recharge to be effective for the balance of the day.


too busy to take lunch


I do all the above. I frequently eat at my desk, I occasionally skip lunch. A couple of times a month I meet a group of friends for lunch or meet with a client. Once or twice a week I go home for lunch. The only times I take an hour for lunch is with the friends or clients. Otherwise it is grab and go.


You need a break from work - you come back able to concentrate better and recharged.


It's necessary to recharge for the afternoon.


Would be nice; my boss works constantly, so, that means I do, too...


usually eat lunch at my desk while reading


Most of the time, I eat lunch at my desk and read or respond to e-mails or continue to work on projects. Once a week, I take an hour to socialize with co-workers during our weekly "Craft Corner." We knit or crochet, and chat, and we feel refreshed afterwards. I wish I could take an hour break every day, but there is just too much work!


Break from work during the day is often times a necessity for your sanity.


What a quaint notion - actually taking time in the middle of the day to step away from the needs of participants, bosses, peers...


Sometimes I don't take a break b/c in my job there isn't enough time in the day to stop working.


Lunch also gives me an opportunity to think about what has to be done without the distractions of what is actually going on in the office.


It's a good, healthy concept; difficult to execute


I carve out a half hour every day to go to the gym. I eat after that. I usually will look at news or sports sites while eating.


More and more, meetings are scheduled from 12 - 1 as it is the only time "everyone is available".


I used to work during lunch, but found I am more productive in the afternoon when I just step away from it, try not to think about it. Some days that's easier said than done.


Mostly eat in the lunchroom where client work is still discussed which means we're still working.


I think it’s important to clear your head a little by taking a break.


To me the break from working and in a different location is important. On the occasions I'm unable to break (too many conference calls, etc.) I notice it is more difficult to do quality work in the afternoon. Unfortunately current management trends look down on someone that takes lunch. Executives go off to lunch but make fun of others for doing so, at least in my experience.


Every company has a different definition of "Exempt" Here it means you are exempt from eating anywhere but at your desk.


At least 90% of the time, I bring my lunch to work and eat at my desk while working and/or reading the news online. It's preferable to do that than stay even later in the evening!

Verbatim (cont.)

Rarely I don't take a break, but I find the break energizing. It gives me a fresh start for the second half of my work day.


Since I would get 30 minutes for lunch, if I took it, I now can go to a restaurant and eat so fast, I finish and sit there while everone is still eating. WOW, have I been trained.


Although I do take a lunch, I do not take a morning or afternoon break.


Work is stressful. I grab some lunch, stop at a vacant parking lot, and open a good book just about every work day. Escaping in the story, listening to the birds and eating something healthy have become the "can't do without" part of my day. It all helps to clear my mind and get me through the rest of the afternoon. I choose to work late most days instead of giving up this mid-day luxury.


I arrive 90 minutes early each day so that I can take a 90 lunch break in order to go the Y and work out. Afterword I eat a quick bag lunch. I still am at my desk working for 8.5 hours each day, the minimum required for management.


Having worked through lunch for years, I not only now take an hour break, but have lost 20 pounds! Oh the irony


I work in a building that used to be a mall so a co-worker and I "mall walk" a few times a week.


Worked out an arrangement with my boss so that I eat at my desk for lunch/ work thru lunch and get to leave at 4PM instead of 5. Saves me money because I have to bring my lunch to work. Added benefit is by getting out at 4, I get to gym before rush hour!


I think everyone needs to get out at lunch, especially on the CRAZY days. I have even had to block lunch on my calendar to prevent co-workers from booking meetings over lunch. They may choose not to eat or take a break but that does not mean the rest of did!


I disagree (they're not taking their break) as it seems they're all in my office during mine. I've become rather coherent talking with my mouth full.


I could take an hour, but only take 1/2 hr so I can leave earlier in the afternoon. What's wrong with that?


I take my lunch break as often as I can. Obviously things happen that shorten it or cause me to miss it completely but I think it’s important to take that break and recharge. My experience is that those who are "too busy" to take a break are expending a whole lot of energy and not actually getting anything accomplished.


If I didn't work through my one-hour lunch break, then I would have to stay an hour later at the end of the day to get all of my work done


I am a firm believer in taking a lunch break. I feel that taking that time away from work is essential for my mental and physical well-being and makes me a more productive employee.


I try to take a "real" lunch once a week where I will go outside of the building. I usually try to get a coworker to go with me. The rest of the week is spent eating at my desk and working. I will try to spend some time on non-work stuff as well.


As a consulting often working in another company's office, I do not take lunch, other than the time it takes to get it from the cafeteria. When I'm home, I often do take a lunch to catch up on errands and with co-workers because I'm gone so much.


Question 1 didn't have enough choices. I typically eat at my desk and either read for work or just keep working while I eat.


I find I'm more productive if I don't take an official break for lunch. I really don't miss it and I feel less guilty if I need to run an errand mid-day.


Taking lunch makes such a difference in my work. If I eat at my desk (does happen occasionally), around 2:00 my attention span is gone and I'm ready to go. With lunch, I come back refreshed and get as much done in the afternoon as I did in the morning.


Take a lunch break! No one was ever promoted for staying at his or her desk during lunch!


generally I'll stop to grab a snack from the convenience store downstairs (pretzels and hummus, raw veggies) and eat at the desk around 2 or 3. I may walk out for lunch for the full hour once per week to meet with a friend (non-coworker)


Totally lost in the multi-tasking email world-a change NOT for the better


I need to bill at least 8 hours. Skipping lunch gets me home earlier so that's my preference.


I usually eat at my desk while working or eat quickly away from desk so I can get back to work.


I'd gladly trade a lunch hour for getting to go home an hour early. I've mastered the giving up a lunch hour, now if I can just figure out the going home an hour early part....



NOTE: This feature is to provide general information only, does not constitute legal advice, and cannot be used or substituted for legal or tax advice.

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