Lucky Victorians take the day off and make the most of Melbourne Cup Day. But around Australia it can be a day for a big lunch and fun time for many – yet still somehow classified as a work day.
Bringers vs buyers
Have you noticed some people always bring lunch while others always buy lunch? In fact a recent research study in the US suggests 90% of people buy lunch at least once a week, men are more likely to buy lunch than women, and those aged 42-49 are most likely to bring their lunch.
Long lunches and siestas
“Lunch” has an illicit feel about it these days. It connotes lack of productivity, (expensive) suits and socialites respectively chomping Wagyu and raw food platters over a few wines.
Despite years of exposure to how the French, the Italians and Spanish do long lunches and siestas, and their undeniable benefits, Australians are just too driven to choose detours of this variety. Melbourne Cup Day may be one exception, but for many it is totally ignored.
Duration of lunch breaks
Who takes the longest lunch breaks? Apparently lawyers do not top the list – media and communications do. And those in the food and beverage industry seem to be taking the shortest lunch breaks.
Every day in various CBDs, you see the lunch crowd cramming in sushi, subs or whatever as they hasten between meetings and their offices. Or if they’re munching at work, there’s that bag of trail mix (if healthy-minded) or a Kit Kat in their drawer. Too busy, too busy. Going out for lunch? How wasteful.
In the US the study showed 67% of people these days spend less than $25 per week on lunch. Surprise surprise, the sectors that do spend money on going out to lunch include lawyers, educators and those in the food and beverage industries. However, the latter get the shortest lunch breaks, as do those working in construction and healthcare. People working in retail, transport and healthcare are more frugal, frequently bringing their own lunch to work. More women try to cut down on lunch expenditure than men do.
If not lunch, then what are they doing during breaks?
A fair percentage of people run errands so you could say at least lawyers not only buy lunch, but they eat it on the run. The insurance sector plus the techies are likewise multitasking during their lunch hours. But it’s fair to say more of us generally are trying to cram things into our lunch breaks, such as going to the bank. Some are indeed running; they’re fitting in their daily jog or hitting the gym.
Taking breaks is good for your health
There really is no one correct answer to the case of the disappearing lunch. The best advice is to take breaks when you can, get out for some air and purposeful exercise and eat properly and well, as regularly as possible.
Most of us do need fuel stops. Our bodies and minds build up a form of debt when we ignore maintenance and rest periods. For those days when you’re too busy to provide for yourself, those food courts serve a valid purpose; you really don’t have to think about which nutritional needs you’re skipping as many offer an improved variety of cuisines and cultures compared to even a decade ago.
We also need good company. There’s much to be said for making time for enjoyable conversations, preferably over something delicious yet inexpensive. Building relationships over lunch is a big plus for a positive work culture.
Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace. See the rest of Eve’s blogs here.