By Karen Axelton
In recent years, the once-sacred lunch hour has been buffeted almost out of existence, as overloaded employees chow down at their desks to save time or brown-bag it to save money. And for entrepreneurs, there are always plenty of other demands to fill your time, making lunch hour a luxury.
A new movement called Take Back Your Lunch Hour aims to change that. Launched by The Energy Project, the initiative urges, “Step away from your desk, turn off your phone (if you dare) and commit to a lunch hour of renewal. Go to the park with friends, take a jog, read a book. You’ll be re-energized and refueled to tackle the rest of the day.”
The Energy Project seeks to help businesspeople, individuals and company leaders become more productive by changing their approach to work. Sitting in front of a computer all day, they argue, has been scientifically proven to decrease productivity because the human body just isn’t wired to do the same thing all day without regular breaks for rejuvenation.
There are other reasons why entrepreneurs might want to encourage their employees to take a lunch hour. Some employers are being hit with lawsuits filed by workers who contend they are being forced to work through meal breaks (mandated by law for hourly workers). Some business owners don’t like the idea of employees eating at their computers and possibly spilling sodas or food into the keyboards.
As a small business owner, you can probably find lots of productive things to do with a lunch hour—whether it’s meeting a client or a colleague for a quick brainstorming or networking session, or working out.
Everyone needs to find the way to spend their lunch hour that most rejuvenates them. For me, it’s shutting the office door and sitting down to enjoy lunch with my husband (we both work at home). For one of my partners, it’s getting out of the office to meet up with colleagues at restaurants and share ideas. And for my other partner, it’s taking a quick run.
Encourage your employees to take back their lunch hours as well and step away from the desk—even if only for a short time. You’ll find they are more productive, and happier, too.