25–34-year-olds take the shortest lunches on average each day
Younger workers skip twice as many lunch breaks a week as their more senior colleagues
Flexible office specialist, Workthere, shares tips on getting the most out of a lunch break
Millennial Brits are the most likely age group in the office to skip lunch breaks during their working day, with more than half (58%) admitting to doing this at least twice a week, according to new research.
The study, conducted by flexible office specialist Workthere, revealed that the average ‘lunch hour’ for office workers in the UK is just 28 minutes1, shrinking by six minutes since 20172.
For millennials this is even shorter, with 25–34-year-old workers taking just 25 minutes on average each day, three minutes less than the current national average. This means younger workers are missing out on 35 minutes of lunch break every day – equating to 11.6 extra hours worked without pay over the course of a month for full-time workers.
That is if they take a break at all, with the same generation of Brits admitting to skipping their lunch hour all together twice a week on average, in a working week that is typically only five days long.
Notably, millennials are twice as likely to work through their lunch than their older counterparts, with 55–64-year-old workers doing this just once a week on average.
For someone working eight-hour days, five days per week, skipping just over half of their lunch break adds up to an additional 17 extra days of unpaid work over the course of the year.
Looking at the reasons as to why office workers are neglecting their breaks, 25–34-year-olds feel the most pressured from their bosses to work right through, with more than one in ten (11%) admitting to this. This is almost twice as much as workers aged between 45-64, with just 6% feeling the same way.
Interestingly, Gen Z are the most sociable group of workers when it comes to the traditional midday break, with more than a third stating that they socialise with their colleagues at lunch, more than any other age group.
The importance of having a proper break from the intensity of work cannot be understated. Health experts say that pausing in the middle of your day to have something to eat or just to break concentration, benefits you physically and mentally, preventing you from hitting a mid-afternoon slump in concentration and motivation3.
In order to help Brits take back their lunch hour and get the most out of it, Workthere has shared its suggestions for getting the most out a lunchbreak, no matter how long it is:
- Eat something healthy
It may sound obvious but eating to refuel your body in the middle of the day is important for your productivity at work. Skipping meals throughout the day will negatively impact your energy levels as well as your metabolism. Eating a balanced meal will boost mental and physical health, and you will be recharged and more focused, which will benefit your performance in the afternoon.
- Get your body moving
Whether it’s something more intense, or just a walk around the office and getting some fresh air, exercise can have a huge positive impact on your day. Aside from the physical benefits, exercise can help to reduce stress and provide more confidence and self-esteem.
- You’re entitled to switch off
Forget about checking emails or working on a ‘to do’ list, instead taking a step away from the work environment and remembering your entitled to do so is a crucial point. By doing so, you will have broken the habit of continuously thinking about work while having a break. You will be able to clear your mind and focus on something you enjoy in your down time, which will enable you to reset your focus and be more motivated for the remainder of the day.
- Socialise with your colleagues
Your colleagues are probably the people you spend time the most with. With that in mind, socialising with them can be a great way of ensuring you have a break and can also lead to stronger team bonding and a more positive atmosphere in the workplace. If you are feeling particularly stressed, you can even use the time to chat through any work-related problems and relieve any pressure before diving back into the rest of the day.
Cal Lee, Global Head of Workthere, commented: “It’s interesting to see just how many office workers choose to either significantly cut down their lunch hour, or skip it all together, despite the benefits to employees and businesses from prioritising a proper lunch break each day is clear to see.
“After such a long period of sustained working from home, businesses are revaluating their space, with many looking at the merits of adopting more flexible offices to suit a hybrid working week and changing expectations from employees.
“With this, it is important to make sure such a working environment is geared towards encouraging staff to take their lunch. Something as simple as having a nice, clean kitchen area separate from the workspace will get people in the mindset of having a proper break.
“Having clearly defined areas inside and outside the office for socialising will also increase the appeal of sitting down for a bite to eat and a chat with colleagues, which is beneficial for their wellbeing and productivity.”
For more information on the research, please visit: https://www.workthere.com/en-gb/news-guides/research/how-the-office-can-reclaim-the-lunch-hour/