Businesswoman in cubicle using laptop and eating salad

Why you shouldn’t eat lunch at your desk

Christina Bruce|

I’ll admit that I am guilty of doing this pretty frequently. I am in fact eating a salad at this very moment. No matter how messy or impractical it might be, chances are I’m multitasking and working while eating lunch. I know it’s probably not the best idea. So I started looking into it. Turns out, there are a lot more reasons than I originally thought.

Here are five compelling reasons why you shouldn’t eat lunch at your desk:

1) Germs. Even if you’re clean, your desk is a breeding ground for dirty germs. The average desk bacteria is 100 times more dangerous than a kitchen counter, and 400 times more dangerous than public bathrooms. Eww. How is that possible? Well, we simply don’t clean our desks like we would a toilet or kitchen. So unless you want to start whipping out the Mr. Clean after lunch, this is reason number one to take a few minutes and head to the kitchen. Those counters and tables likely get cleaned and sanitized several times a day.
2) Productivity. When I get focused on a project at hand it can be hard to drag me away. It’s an old habit of clinging to a ‘creative roll’ when I’m on one. But it has actually been proven to be less effective in a number of studies. One from the Journal of Cognition found that short breaks can help us focus on tasks at hand with the same intensity we started with. So even a short break for a bite to eat can help can your brain function at a sustained level of intensity hour after hour.
3) Portion Control. We’ve talked before about jobs that make you fat. Anybody who has absentmindedly polished off a bag of M&M’s while prepping a presentation knows how easy it is to be unaware of what (and how much) you’re eating. The same goes for eating lunch. Research has shown that when your mind is focused on something else, like work, the internet, or a movie, you become more inclined to continue eating when already full.
4) Networking. Socializing with colleagues is actually good for your career. Even the deepest of introverts knows there is something to this theory. The person who gets the promotion is always the one that knows people, communicates with other departments, and is friendly and social. They are the first to come to mind when opportunities arise. Lunch is an easy non-committal way to get to know those that you don’t work with on a daily basis.
5) Health. As we mentioned in this previous Workopolis article, sitting for long periods of time (like we do at our desks) has actually been proven to lower our life expectancy. And while we obviously can’t control the nature of our work, your body will thank you if you get up and move around sometimes. And that includes having lunch somewhere else.

Category: Life At Work,