Managers told to get employees off the desk – working through lunch is a growing issue

It’s Friday lunch time – but are you sitting at your desk, staring at the screen, speed-eating your leftovers and catching up on admin? Chances are you’re among the large number of Australian workers failing to take a proper lunch break.

According to a survey conducted by ING Direct, almost one-third of Australians work straight through their allocated lunch break, or use the time to do personal administration that has been neglected due to work pressures.

The survey found 28% of Australian workers are eating at the desk, 33% skip lunch entirely, and once a week, one in 10 completely work through their lunch break.

It found the typical Australian lunch break is just 15-30 minutes, which 37% use to catch up on phone calls and 31% use for personal administration.

For 30% of Australians, it found lunch time is a welcome chance to go shopping, while 24% catch up on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. A fit 7% of workers use their lunch break to go to the gym.

But it’s the sedentary group that are most concerning, says The Physio Co chief executive officer Tristan White.

White told SmartCompany it should be the responsibility of business owners and managers to encourage their employees to get outside and take a break.

“We’ve heard a lot lately that we are ‘sitting ourselves to death’,” he says. “That’s why it is important to get fresh air, to get some exercise and get moving.”

He says organisations should have some activity areas in the workspace, perhaps a table tennis table, or a basketball ring if room allows, so employees can get up and get moving on an impromptu basis.

“I see office workers with poor posture, who have neck and shoulder pain. Everyone is putting on weight, and that puts strain on companies and the economy.”

White says employees need to take time away from electronics, and leave their mobile phones at their desk when they on a break.

“We have to manage our screen time, it’s important to have a mental break.”

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