Lunch breaks are for losers

Posted on February 10, 2016

Did you know that by law, employers are only required to give you a 20-minute break for a shift of six hours of more? I wouldn’t even make it to the front of the microwave queue in that time (one microwave for a whole floor of offices definitely isn’t enough, but that’s an issue for another day).

The real problem in most offices isn’t the lack of time allocated for lunch, it’s the reluctance of workers to actually tear themselves away from their screen. The mere suggestion of turning on the ‘out to lunch’ auto-reply sends waves of anxiety to our very core.

Why are we so resistant to a quick stroll in the fresh air, half an hour stuck in a good book, or simply a little time to enjoy our food and break up a busy working day?

Is it because we love our job so much that taking a break seems a frivolous endeavour? Perhaps we’re simply too busy? Or are we secretly terrified that our boss will think of us as the least dedicated employee in the company?

Of course, no one would ever admit to the latter.

Lunching at our desks has become an epidemic. So in an attempt to boost my productivity and soothe my soul, I made a resolution to leave the four walls of the Rhizome grotto every lunchtime for a week.

What could go wrong?

A lot more than I thought, actually. After just two days, I’d already spent a week’s wages on steamed pulled pork buns, artisanal sourdough sandwiches and cold brew coffee served in a mason jar.

Bringing in home-cooked food didn’t fare much better. I may well have been saving money, but sitting alone perched in the corner of the office kitchen, while making awkward conversation with people as they swarmed in and out to prepare their own lunches, was far from relaxing.

And a casual wander through the streets of Soho was a futile attempt to hold down my flailing hair and keep my umbrella from blowing inside out.

But the worst thing of all was I missed out on all the midday chitchat. I’d re-enter the office after an hour away to raucous laughter and inside jokes to which I was no longer privy.

I’m writing this as I shove forkfuls of pasta into my mouth while replying to a journalist’s email, checking a message from my boss on Skype and attempting to flick through a copy of Time Out. And all is well in the world again.

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