Just one in five workers use their lunch break to actually eat every day — with most using the time to catch up on personal errands and browse social media instead.
A study of 2,000 U.K. professionals found 79% will tuck into their food as they work, so they can use their "lunch break" to do other things.
Watching YouTube videos, walking the dog and playing with apps on their phones are also among some of the ways people spend their lunch break.
The study, commissioned by Samsung KX for the launch of their ‘Lunch and Listen’ two-part event series, is designed to inspire people to reclaim their lunch breaks.
“We all need to make time for ourselves and our research has shown how few really are," said Tanya Weller, director of Samsung Showcase KX. “It’s easy to get caught up in a piece of work, but people aren’t even giving themselves a moment to eat — let alone do anything else."
According to the study, approximately 40% of respondents would like more time to pursue hobbies and interests during their lunch break, as they feel work has completely taken over. But 67% will frequently skip their midday meal altogether, with the average person only managing to take a proper break from their work three days a week.
The study, which was carried out by OnePoll, also found 46% of those polled find their job is simply too busy to take time out of their day to rejuvenate, whereas 15% get so side-tracked they forget to take lunch. Another 13% claimed the culture of their workplace makes them feel as though they shouldn’t have a break, with 1 in 10 even feeling guilty for having some time to themselves.
But 37% said they don’t know what to do with their time, so they just don’t bother to take a lunch break.
It also emerged that 43% will usually spend their allocated break time at their desk, with just a fifth stepping away to chill on the sofa. As a result, around 70% confessed to checking work emails or taking calls during their lunch time, rather than enjoying themselves.
“Your lunch break should be just that — a break from work and a time to escape and enjoy the things outside of your professional life wherever you can," said Weller.
Participants said they would prefer to spend their downtime watching episodes of their favourite TV shows, playing computer games or even getting creative by painting, drawing or making music on a device.
The problem is, the average worker surveyed was allowed only up to 40 minutes to take a break from work, and many only take a third of this time — or less than 15 minutes — taking a rest.
A third would like to be able to spend more time stretching their legs and going for a walk during this time, while a fifth want to listen to music more often. And to give them something to do, more than 20% said they would happily attend a virtual event or seminar during their break, all from the comfort of their own home. As a result, they would like an additional 26 minutes a day to do things they really enjoy during their lunch break.