For some reason, there’s been a stigma to eating alone. Smart employees won’t have lunch at their desk, not just because staying in for lunch means automatically shouldering the responsibility for changing the water cooler bottle and answering calls, but because lunch hour is when people connect and build bonds among team members.
However, writing for Quartz, Ben Waber, president and CEO of Humanyze analysed the behavioral data collected by the company and found that having solo lunch at work can be beneficial for certain people.
The key lies in time allocation. Lunch break is an opportunity to socialise. However, if you are already spending a substantial amount of time making meaningful communication at work, Waber argued that you should rather focus on the work on hand during lunch breaks.
Waber advised that a management role should spend at least 10% of their time in focused work, and an individual contributor role 40%, in order to ensure work quality, and sparing three lunches a week to yourself will help you achieve that amount of time.
Even if you choose to rest instead of working during lunch breaks, it helps you recharge and therefore boost job satisfaction as shown in research.
In addition, socialising at lunchtime may not be as effective as people expect. Communication at work is important in terms of reducing errors, increasing job satisfaction, and diffusing tacit knowledge. However, colleagues are more likely to communicate during work than lunch hours, especially for those who don’t normally speak with each other. Waber argued that it is effective only when you are trying to build connections outside of your team.
If you mainly spend their lunchtime on nothing more than small talks, having lunch alone may not be a bad idea at all.
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