Employed adults ‘waste’ 56 hours a year by working during lunch breaks

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Workers are “giving away” 56 hours a year by working through their lunch breaks, research has found. A poll of 2,000 employed adults found they typically take a full lunch break just 11 out of their 20 working days a month.

They’ll work their entire shift without a single break on four days a month, and will take less than their allocated time six times a month – typically for 13 minutes on each occasion.

And with the average allocated break time among those polled being 36 minutes, this means they’re effectively giving away 56 hours a year.

But even when those polled do manage to take a break, 58 percent admitted they wish they made better use of it.

And almost half (46 percent) described this period of their working day as boring – leaving half wanting to use their respite from work to better themselves, and possibly learn a new skill.

As a result, Philadelphia, which commissioned the research, has partnered with language learning app Babbel, to offer 1,000 adults one month’s free access to any of its language courses.

The study also found workers’ uninspired approach to lunch breaks isn’t limited to what they do or don’t do during this period of the day.

It’s reflected in what they eat, too – with just four percent going out their way to avoid eating the same lunches on repeat.

Nancy Galvin, brand manager for Philadelphia UK, said: “Coming up with new ideas for what to have for lunch isn’t easy – it might seem like there’s only a limited range of options available.”

It also emerged that even when they take a “break”, those polled spend 23 percent of the allotted time doing work-related tasks.

Top reasons for taking short lunch breaks, or no lunch break at all, are due to feeling overwhelmed with work (48 percent), tight deadlines (35 percent), and an inclination to keep working and get things done (33 percent).

However, when they do get time to switch off for a while, many are seemingly at a loss at what to do with themselves, with 46 percent lacking inspiration to think up something to do.

But 38 percent would like to do more walking during that time, while 31 percent would like to read books, and 21 percent would like to meditate.

Others would like to learn a language (17 percent) or try creative writing (16 percent).

The study, carried out through OnePoll, also found that, during a typical working month of 20 days, those polled will bring their own homemade lunch into work 12 times.

And the most popular food options are sandwiches (59 percent), fruit (38 percent), and salad (33 percent).

Esteban Touma, Babbel Live Teacher, said: “Lunch breaks are a time for people to step out of their work roles, have something to eat, and shift their focus.

“Bite-sized language learning can be an excellent way to spend a lunch break – not only is it beneficial for a person’s mental health, it also provides some time for you to make progress on your language journey.”

Discussing Philadelphia’s drive to liven up lunch breaks, Nancy Galvin added: “We’re delighted to partner with Babbel, encouraging UK workers to make their lunchtimes simply better.”

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