New Survey Reveals Little Change in Lunch Habits Over Past Three Years

MENLO PARK, CA -- Will the lunch hour soon go the way of carbon paper and the typewriter? It's possible, suggests a recent survey. The poll shows the average time spent on lunch breaks is 42 minutes, well under the traditional hour. Close to one-third (31 percent) of respondents said it was shorter compared to the length of their breaks three years ago.

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm, and includes responses from 150 executives with the nation's 1,000 largest companies.

Executives were asked, "What is the average length of your typical lunch break?" The mean response was 42 minutes.

Survey respondents were also asked, "Are your lunch breaks longer or shorter than they were three years ago? " Their responses: 

Somewhat longer   3%
No change   66%
Somewhat shorter   23%
Significantly shorter   8%

"Time is at a premium at work," said Liz Hughes, vice president of OfficeTeam. "People must meet more deadlines and greater expectations within the same number of hours and days. Furthermore, with business being conducted in multiple time zones there is no noon slowdown, which makes it difficult for some workers to break away."

Hughes warns against skipping lunch on a regular basis, as it can quickly lead to burnout. She offers the following tips on how to break for lunch on your busiest days:

  • Set a schedule. Keep a running list of what you plan to accomplish in the morning, and what you will tackle in the afternoon. Make your lunch the break between the two sets of projects.
  • Be reachable. If you're worried about missing an important call or the chance to provide input on a critical project, ask a colleague to cover for you during your break. Carry a cell phone and let the person know when you plan to return.
  • Be practical. Limit stress by avoiding major traffic routes and crowded restaurants. Maximize your time by checking off something from your weekend to-do list. Use your break to visit the dry cleaner, buy a birthday gift or get your car washed.

OfficeTeam has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at

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