Encouraging Employees to Stop Eating ‘Al Desco’

Be honest, you’ve spent more time eating at your desk than you have your dining room table. Don’t be ashamed, lunch in the workplace is a common thing (and hilariously parodied here). If your office culture is all go, go, go, it’s likely you’ve had a lunch or two ‘al desco,’ enjoying some leftovers over a crumb-laiden keyboard. Eating at your desk, however, may have detrimental effects on your workplace, and your own health. As an office manager or HR professional, it may be time to start convincing your employees to eat out.

First off, lunch in the workplace often spawns from a specific office culture. Many employees who eat at their desk either feel too scared to leave the office for lunch, fearing scorn from superiors for leaving with work to do. Others opt out of lunch to skip out of the office early. Neither is particularly encouraging, or good for a happy office culture. Employees should feel they can take a break during their day to eat without fearing scorn.

Eating lunch at your desk may also breed an unhealthy workplace. Food particles can get stuck in keyboards and elsewhere, cultivating a germ colony from cube to cube. It also encourages overeating, as employees are likely to breeze through lunch and continue snacking after they might otherwise be full. Quick eating without getting up afterward to stretch or walk around may also cause digestion problems.

It can be tricky for employees to find a place to eat a home-packed lunch (often a cost-saver) without eating at their desk. Not all offices have the resources to have large lunchrooms. If you can, though, provide a small lunchroom, or recommend places in the area where you can take food into. If you can’t get people to stop eating at their desk, encourage employees to get out and walk. A good leader recognizes the need to disengage from work briefly in order to actually increase productivity. A short break for lunch will more likely re-energize employees, creating a more productive workplace.

An office culture which encourages, rather than discourages, employees to lunch at their desk may be a less productive workplace, and more than likely one employees feel more of a need to distance themselves from after hours. If employees feel chained to their desk during work hours they may become more bitter about having to do tasks after hours. So do your employees and your company a favor and encourage people to eat lunch al fresco rather than al desco.

Do you think employees who eat at their desk are harming your company culture? Comment below to weigh in!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Matt Seppings