Survey Reveals Executives’ Lunch Breaks Disappearing

MENLO PARK, CA -- Could the “lunch hour” be facing extinction? According to a recent survey, executives polled said their average lunch break is 35 minutes -- seven minutes less than what they reported five years ago. Managers also admitted they work through lunch more than half of the workweek.

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with 150 randomly selected senior executives at the 1,000 largest companies in the United States.

Executives were asked, “What is the average length of your typical lunch break?” The mean response was 35 minutes, compared to 42 minutes in 2003.

Survey respondents also were asked, “How many days each week, on average, do you work through lunch?” The mean response was three days. (The question was not asked in 2003.)

“In today’s 24/7 workplace, a lunch break often takes a back seat to e-mails, phone calls, meetings and pressing deadlines,” said Dave Willmer, executive director of OfficeTeam. “Many people are doing more work with fewer resources and, therefore, putting in more time at their desks. Some may also be working across time zones and forgoing lunch breaks to accommodate their colleagues’ schedules.”

But Willmer cautioned that professionals need time away from their desks to recharge and remain productive. He added, “Managers set an example for their staff. If they don’t take a break for lunch, their employees may feel inclined to do the same.”

OfficeTeam provides the following tips for taking back the shrinking lunch break:

  • Plan your day. Schedule your break to fall between projects, if possible, and set morning deadlines for important tasks so you can relax over lunch.
  • Schedule lunch with colleagues. During a busy period, change a team meeting to a working lunch outside the office. The time away will improve your energy while maintaining productivity.
  • Book an appointment. Block off your online calendar so coworkers don’t schedule calls or meetings during that time. Be flexible, though, if there are no other options.
  • Step away from the desk. If you are unable to leave your building for lunch, take a walk around the office. If possible, eat in the lunch room or break area with colleagues.
  • Put work aside. If you have to be near your computer or phone, face your chair away and do a nonwork activity, such as reading a newspaper or magazine.

About OfficeTeam
OfficeTeam provides businesses with the highly skilled administrative talent they need to maximize productivity, achieve cost efficiency and support full-time staff. The staffing firm has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at

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