Working through lunch is good for you


TO WORK or not to work? If you find your colleagues tiring, rather work through that pile of admin you’ve been eyeing instead of having lunch with them.

Researchers the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management found that spending time with people you aren’t quite comfortable with – like your colleagues – actually increases your levels of stress and decreases your productivity.

The same doesn’t apply when your boss orders you to chow down at your desk. John Trougakos, an associate professor and co-author of the study, says the freedom to choose to work through lunch was the “critical aspect”.

"The autonomy aspect helps to offset what we had traditionally thought was not a good way to spend break time," he explains.

As part of the study, researchers interviewed admin workers at a university in the US about what they had done during lunch time over a 10-day period. They then spoke to the participant’s colleagues to see how tired they were by the end of each day.

Researchers found socialising with colleagues lead to higher levels of fatigue, whereas relaxing activities chosen by the participant lead to the lowest levels of tiredness.

Workers working through lunch also shower high levels of fatigue but less so if they chose to work themselves.

Trougakos says socialising with other workers may be stressful because conversations centre on work or because the boss is nearby so workers can’t “kick back and be themselves”.

-       Kirstin Buick (@KirstiBuick)


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