The Great Lunch Break Debate

Apr 25 2012 @ 10:54am

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Rachael Levy decries the American habit of eating at one's desk:

There’s a lot to be said for Americans’ strong work ethic—you won’t hear us complaining, like the French sometimes do, about arduous 35-hour workweeks. But there is also something to be said about living our days to the fullest. Dedicating a mere half hour to lunch each day isn’t going to reduce our efficiency. It will actually improve it, and make us happier, more productive workers in the long run. Listen to the French. Take that lunch break. You’ll be glad you did.

Rachael Larimore counters:

Everything we might prefer to working is crammed into one- or two-hour slices: an hour to eat and drink, an hour devoted to “caring for others.” If you’re an office worker with a few kids, you first must wake up and endure a mad scramble to get everyone dressed and out the door—that’s an hour or two of non-quality family time. Then there’s the commute. If it’s 30 minutes each way, that’s another hour wasted. And then you work for eight or nine hours. If you take an hour for lunch, that’s just another hour that you’re not spending at home with your spouse and kids or at the gym. It’s another hour that you’re paying the sitter. With lunch, an office drone could leave home at 8 a.m. and not get home until 6:30 p.m. When are you supposed to cook dinner? How are you supposed to get to Little League on time?

(Chart by Bureau of Labor Studies via Larimore)