FOR most of us, a lunch hour of old may have involved nipping out for a sandwich at a local deli or running an errand at a nearby shop, but times have drastically altered and now, new research suggests the lunch hour as a concept is over.


How so?

According to the findings of a new survey, the traditional lunch hour is over, with the middle-of-the-day break time cut back to an average of 29 minutes, usually spent still dipping in and out of work, with 73 per cent never taking a break.


What else did the survey find?

The study, commissioned by Branston, polled 1500 people, with employees saying that even when they do take time to grab something to eat at lunch, 25% said their breaks were shorter now than pre-pandemic and 29 per cent said they still respond to messages and emails as they don’t want their bosses to think they are slacking off.


Because they are not in the office?

It seems concern has risen over the way staff are viewed while working from home, with 33% surveyed saying managers were more demanding now and 17% saying they had been on the end of criticism or remarks for not reading messages quickly enough over lunch.



The research also found that 57% found time away from their desks boosted their mental health and 49% said felt a decent lunch break motivated them to work harder in the afternoon.


The lunch hour had been a big deal?

Although cultures vary around the world, as men began to work long hours at factory jobs sometimes far from home amid the industrialisation of the 19th century, usual routines of going back home for a midday meal were disrupted, so they began to take food with them. In time, an hour off was given to allow a restorative period to prepare for an afternoon’s graft.


The word itself is historic?

The specific origin of the term ‘luncheon’ is debated, but it is thought to come from the 14th century Middle English word ‘nonechenche’ or ‘nuncheon’, meaning ‘light midday meal’ - a blend of ‘noon’ and ‘shench; which mean ‘to pour our or serve’. Luncheon was first recorded in English around 1570, though it didn’t reach the form of its modern spelling until 1706.


Is the pandemic behind the shift now?

Previous research shows the lunch hour was being eroded before Covid changed work patterns, with separate early 2020 research founding a third of UK workers ate lunch at their desk, with 43% saying that they were too busy to pause and take a break from their computers for even a few minutes.


What now?

Whatever your lunch break involves, the organisation, Mental Health in the Workplace, recommends regular breaks to employees "to balance their physical and mental wellbeing and in effect to contribute the best of themselves" to work, recommending "connecting with nature" for a more productive afternoon, with tips including watering plants or sitting by a window if you are unable to venture outside, or going for a lunchtime walk.



Branston have developed a 'Pickle Plugin.' After users install it, the firm say you can set a designated lunch break and then at that time every day a selection of giant sandwiches will take over your Google Chrome tabs, reminding you it’s time for your all-important lunch break.