Reinvent the Working Lunch: How Catered Meals Can Save Time & Stress in the Office

Posted by on Thursday, December 12th, 2013 with 3 Comments

When confronted with a lengthy to-do list and packed calendar at work, people often make a potentially disastrous choice: they’ll just work through lunch. Grabbing a quick “meal” from a vending machine or the closest fast-food chain and absent-mindedly shoveling it down while you work may seem like a time-saver, but most industrial-organizational psychologists (that is, psychologists specializing in the workplace) maintain that lunch breaks actually boost productivity.

Stressed out worker eating lunch at desk

Eating lunch at your desk can increase stress and decrease productivity. Image source: flickr user slworking2

The experts may agree, but Americans aren’t listening. According to some estimates, only one-third of American workers take a real  lunch break most days of the week.  The other two-thirds either eat at their desk, or even skip lunch altogether. But why is the typical working lunch bad for us? And how can we change the unhealthy habit without adding hours to the workday?

Psychologists like Chris Cunningham, professor of Industrial-Organizational and Occupational Health Psychology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, warns that we all have a limited amount of psychological resources to draw from throughout the day. By remaining at our desks and working through lunch, we can drain that reserve. As Cunningham tells the Wall Street Journal, “Taking a lunch break away from the desk lets people separate themselves from the source of that drain. And that offers the opportunity to build back some of those resources in the middle of the day—rather than just at the end when work is over.”

Candy and soda at desk for lunch

Workers who dine at their desk tend to consume more empty calories. Image source: flickr user MeganMorris

Aside from psychological stresses, there are physical tolls to the habit of eating at your desk. A recent British poll found that workers who dine at their desks consume more than 1,200 calories at work each day — approximately two-thirds of the average recommended intake for women, and more than half for men. Participants who ate while working reported a higher tendency to dine on chips, snacks, and sodas rather than wholesome meals; of course, excessive calorie consumption can lead to obesity, which leads in turn to very costly declines in productivity.

The research is clear, but it’s hard to argue with employees who would rather save time and be able to leave the office at a decent hour than head out to a restaurant for a leisurely, and often expensive, lunch in the middle of the day. One possible solution is to provide an on-site lunch for employees.

workers eating a catered lunch

A catered lunch provides a break and healthy food while saving employees valuable time. Image source: flickr user /tmp/

well-designed break room can become the office’s own personal restaurant for the lunch hour. Invite everyone to leave their desks behind and dine together, providing a break from their desks and the lively socialization that psychologists deem necessary for productivity and mental wellbeing in the office. Providing a catered lunch will not only bolster productivity, but employee satisfaction and their sense of appreciation.

With lunch delivery and customizable menu options from Waiter.com, it’s easy to honor employees’ personal tastes and preferences, and recurring online ordering makes it simple for busy administrative staff to manage the task of regularly feeding a large group. Providing a catered meal lets employees know their time is valuable, their contributions appreciated, and that their workplace culture encourages taking breaks and taking care of each other.

And, best of all, no one will have an excuse to eat chips for lunch!

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — Waiter.com is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & deliveryWaiter.com offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

3 responses to “Reinvent the Working Lunch: How Catered Meals Can Save Time & Stress in the Office”

  1. Gerty Gift says:

    I thought it was interesting that you pointed out that eating at your desk can leave you to consume half or two thirds of your recommended daily calorie intake. I didn’t realize that something like this was happening. I never even would have thought that catering would be a good way to solve this. It’s definitely something that I’ll be looking into.

  2. Thomas Peterson says:

    I like that you mentioned a well-designed breakroom can serve as the office’s personal restaurant for the lunch hour. I have been looking into catering for a corporate office party and was wondering what benefits It might bring. I would love to see about getting lunch catering in the North Vancouver area and see how that helps.

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