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Lazy Lunch

There are some unnatural endeavours that have become part of humanity’s “normal” routine over the millennia. Monogamy springs to mind as being at the top of the list, closely followed by the nuclear family, and Morris Dancing. Somewhere in that mix you can also throw the “9 to 5” workday; working a set number of hours in the same spot five days a week, regardless of how much work you actually have to do is one of the more reality-defiant things human beings have bought into. It is a notion that presents lots of challenges for the participants like, for instance, staying awake. In their infinite wisdom of course, the grand poobahs of the industrial workplace have tried to make things more amenable for their minions by allowing morning and afternoon tea and lunch breaks. New research though, shows that the lunch break may not necessarily set you up for a stellar afternoon of work output.

The researchers surveyed a range of people working in office administration. The subjects were asked what they did during their lunch break over a ten day period and then the subject’s co-workers were asked how tired they appeared at the end of a work day.

Analysis showed that when workers freely chose their own activities during lunch they displayed less fatigue at the end of the day. By contrast, getting work done during the lunch break resulted in the subjects showing greater fatigue by day’s end. However, people were less tired when they worked through lunch if they felt it was their own decision to do so.

You might think that socialising at lunch would regenerate you for the afternoon’s efforts but in fact when workers felt they could not choose who they socialised with they still felt fatigued in the afternoon.

The common denominator here is that regeneration comes through choice. Workplaces that don’t allow for regeneration in the work day risk employee burnout, absenteeism, and reduced productivity. So creating a work culture that encourages employee choices in how they regenerate throughout the day is…well, it’s a smart choice.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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