In offices around the world, from as early as 11am, colleagues start asking one another: “What’s for lunch?” or “Where shall we go to eat?” These are questions many employees take seriously – in fact, in some cultures, lunchtime is a truly treasured moment.
In the latest OECD study on the subject, the French were found to spend 2 hours and 13 minutes on meals each day, compared with the world OECD average of 1 hour 31 minutes daily.
Koreans spend 1 hour 41 minutes; Australians, too, 1 hour 31 minutes; while at the very bottom of the ranking are Americans, who set aside just 1 hour and 2 minutes for eating and drinking.
But it’s not simply about taking a break from work or engaging in social interaction: according to a recent US survey, the lunch break also appears to be connected with productivity.
Among employees surveyed, 78% feel that taking a break at this time of day “improves job performance” by allowing them to recharge their batteries. Half of them said stopping work to eat lowers their stress levels, while 53% even pointed out that lunch makes them happier.
Could the lunch break be a terrain where bosses and employees achieve some kind of harmony? According to respondents who have a remote or hybrid setup, they would be more inclined to return to the office if lunch were provided for free.
Members of Generation Z are particularly interested in this opportunity: 83% of them see this perk as a motivating factor to head onsite to work, compared with 67% for others.
Of those surveyed, the number of staff who say they never take a lunch break is up 40% compared with last year. One worker in two (48%) skips lunch at least once a week, although this figure rises to 70% among Gen Z employees.
And while this break in the middle of the workday is sacred for 29% of employees, 62% said they don’t necessarily use this free time to actually eat.
Green spaces, too
Meanwhile, a new British survey says connecting with green spaces may help concentration, contributing to greater productivity in the office.
This study of 2,000 adults found that people who spend time outdoors are generally healthier, physically and mentally, than those who don’t. They’re also happier, more energetic, and more productive than their counterparts.
In fact, individuals who spend 20 hours or more each week in green or natural spaces are 41% more efficient over the course of a day than those who devote just 30 minutes a week to this activity.
Three-quarters of respondents say that time spent in nature gives them a sense of wellbeing that helps them get through the day. Some 80% also say they feel better physically and mentally after spending time in green spaces.
Various scientific studies have shown that contact with nature can reduce employee stress and awaken creativity. Some companies are well aware of this, and are taking increasing care to provide employees with greener environments, whether by installing plants in their offices or creating full-blown nature areas on their premises.