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Lunch ‘hour’? How much time do you take for lunch?

A new survey of office workers reveals only about 27 percent take a full hour-long lunch break. And even those workers who do hit pause on their work are not always eating. The survey revealed many workers surf the web, catch up on social media or run errands. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON — More than half of U.S. office workers – 56 percent – say their typical lunch break is 30 minutes or less, and a lot of office workers in the D.C. area spend even that short time eating at their desk.

And that is a bad thing, according to the experts.

Placement firm OfficeTeam, a Robert Half company, surveyed office workers about their lunch break habits and found only 27 percent take an hour-long lunch break.

Among the majority who take far less than that, “lunch” is not the main purpose.

“You don’t want to skip what lunch is really intended for. It is to eat. You need nutritious foods that are hopefully going to provide you that energy to get through the rest of the day,” OfficeTeam’s Amy Keitt told WTOP.

“Additionally, not getting out and taking a real break can make you not as productive in the afternoon and ultimately we want to try to avoid burnout,” she said.

More than half say lunch break is when they surf the web and catch up on social media, or make personal calls and answer personal emails. A third use their allotted lunch break time to run personal errands.

The lunch break typically marks the halfway point through a workday, and OfficeTeam says it is an important time to recharge, chat with co-workers or network with managers, and ideally, actually get out of the office for a bit.

Ironically, more employers are investing in nicer kitchens and even in-house cafes as a perk to keep employees happy, but the downside is that it is actually contributing to workers not getting the full midday break from the office environment that they may need.

“Get some fresh air,” Keitt said. “Get a little exercise in during that time. Whenever possible, it is important to take a real lunch break that is free of any work-related task and actually get out. It is hard to truly relax and recharge if you’re still in the office.”

Office workers in Washington are among the worst offenders who work the most on their lunch breaks.

You don’t need to make a formal trip to a sit-down restaurant, although that would be a treat.

Simply logging off, pushing away, getting up and going out to grab something quick can make a big difference in the rest of your day.

OfficeTeam’s survey of 2,800 professionals working in office environments in 28 cities found that 7 percent actually spend less than 10 minutes on their lunch break.


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