Office staff. Cubicle dwellers. Desk jockeys. Dilberts. Corporate.
They have many names, but just like any other profession, they have to find time in their busy day to eat. They may be on the 27th floor of an office building or in their home office. Where ever they might be, it is in their best interest—and yours—to make sure they have time to break away from their computer, from their phone, and from their desk to eat, disconnect and rest.
There’s always a conference call, report deadline or “lunch and learn,” which seem to keep your employees at their desk over the lunch hour. Yet the benefits of allowing them to submit the report a little later or plan their calendar more effectively can produce significant gains in their:
• Relationships with colleagues
• Health and fitness conditioning
Consider jobs like operations, inside sales, tech support, marketing, graphic design, and application development. These employees are sitting for hours at a time, and staring at a computer screen for much of it. Usually, the longer people work at their desk, the easier it to forget to decompress, get some fresh air and better nutrition than a cold Pop Tart, the monthly birthday cake, or the last Snickers bar from the office vending machine.
There are many benefits to encouraging your employees to take a lunchtime break, and your business will benefit from them in the long term. Here are three of our favorites.
1. Productivity and focus
Remember when you were a kid at school, and the lunch bell rang, and everyone was happy to grab their lunchbox, eat what Mom sent them, or dine on the gourmet fare at the school cafeteria? Whether that was your experience or not, you likely had some time to get some fresh air, run around the yard, and refresh your body and brain for the rest of the day.
At the office, you should encourage your employees to get some fresh air too. If your employees might need access to customer data if an important call comes in, a cloud-based, mobile file management application can provide access to files like quotes, invoices, or even Outlook PST files. Out of the office doesn’t have to mean out of the loop.
Empowering your employees to take a stroll around the block, go to a local gym and blow off steam, or have a hot, nutritious lunch will pay off with focus, energy, and enthusiasm. If something important breaks over the lunch hour, your teams will feel connected enough to address what they need to, but free enough to recharge their batteries.
2. Social engagement and team building
Just like your family at the dinner table, some of the best conversations happen when employees can meet face-to-face over a meal and a beverage. Hydration and nourishment can eliminate that “wall” of fatigue that often hits around 3 PM, where concentration lags, and employees often stray to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Idle screen time isn’t helping your team to produce better results, it’s just a distraction that can drag on past the lunch hour.
Having walking meetings, stand-up scrums, or setting up a ping-pong table in an unobtrusive space in the office can encourage people to share ideas, build relationships with new colleagues, and catch up on what’s happening across the business. WiFi accessibility in the office is ideal. If employees can move about your office environment with access to their files and apps, they won’t feel the guilt of straying from their desk. Some companies are eliminating designated desks altogether and allowing their employees to work where they can be most productive.
3. Health and Nutrition
Do you ever stream a TV series at home, while eating a bag of chips, a pizza, or nachos? That might be fun on occasion, but if you think about it, doesn’t that pizza, those chips or nachos taste better when you’re eating them without the distraction of TV or a movie? When we eat at our desks, the lunch experience is really diluted by the spreadsheets, documents, and other files on our desks. When we eat mindfully alone, or with other people, we are more aware of what we are eating, when we are full, and what our body really needs.
The idea that “sitting is the new smoking” is not new. Investing in ergonomic desks, which can be set for sitting or standing, can prevent conditions and disease like obesity, cancer, and lower back pain. Providing tools like mobile apps and devices that allow your employees to get outside (and stay connected), have a social lunch, or volunteer for a cause contributes to better mental and physical health.
Though it seems counter-productive to prevent your employees from working through lunch, there’s lots of proof that when employees break away from their desk for 30 minutes to an hour, they will produce better results, be more engaged, and they may even invite you along to their yoga or spin classes at lunchtime.
Does the idea of a mobile-enabled, cloud based file management app sound like a good way to liberate your employees from being chained to their desk over lunch? Try a 30-day trial of MozyPro today.