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September 05, 2001
1 in 5 Works Through Lunch
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A nationwide study of 700 employed people by OfficeTeam, an international staffing firm based in Menlo Park, Calif., revealed that 19 percent work through lunch every day, while 43 percent do so at least once a week.

"Eating at your desk is on the rise because there's more pressure from employers to get work done and people also have much more work to do," Diane F. Domeyer, OfficeTeam executive director, told the Chicago Tribune. "But even though it's very important to get done all of your work, there also are some risks involved."

Domeyer told the Tribune that "lunch breaks are needed to avoid burnout. Even though you probably are saving time by working throughout the lunch hour, you may be too tired in the afternoon to get much done."

Another problem, according to Domeyer, is that "you present less than a professional image when you answer the phone with your mouth half full, when odors from what you're eating permeate the office and when you spill food on important papers and your computer."

Domeyer suggests that employees evaluate their time and responsibilities and balance them with the benefits of going out to lunch, particularly with colleagues.

On the other side of the coin is Martin Yate, author of "Knock 'Em Dead 2000." He didn't go out for lunch for 20 years. "I worked for an executive search firm and sat at my desk at lunch time writing books until I got published," Yate, who has been in human resources and recruiting since 1973, told the Tribune.

Though Yate stayed at his desk by choice, some corporate cultures preclude the possibility of going out.

"At some firms . . . you are frowned on if you go out to lunch," he told the Tribune. "Everyone is expected to stay at (his or her) desk and continue working."

There are other reasons for eating at your desk. "Some people don't go out because they're health-conscious and want to avoid eating a big meal," Yate said. "Instead, they bring low-fat lunches to work and eat them there."

Some workers, he said, "are too busy to go out. Others, if they get to work late or have to leave early, feel a moral obligation to make up for lost time by not going out on their lunch hour."

The biggest negative of always dining in, he says, is "with all the emphasis on being a team player, if you don't socialize with the members of your team, people notice, including your boss, and decide you're not a team player."

To view a Chicago Tribune story, click here.
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