No. 60, January 2006
Really, what is the big deal? We are all busy. Why not engage in a little desktop dining? Do a little work, surf the net, or catch up on personal e-mail; lunch at your desk can provide a little extra time to get things done. But is it in your best interest? Experts agree it is not. And maybe not just for the reasons about which you have already thought.
Beaucoup Bacteria ~ According to a 2002 study conducted by Dr. Gerba of the University of Arizona, the average desk has 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat! You are much safer eating your lunch in the cafeteria (or maybe in the bathroom!).
Creepy Crawlies ~ The crumbs and debris from lunch can attract the attention of bugs and critters. Not exactly the office visitors we hope to draw. Once the little guys come to call, it is very hard to rid yourself of them.
Safety & Spills ~ Partaking of lunch at your desk can be a harrowing way to take your career in your own hands. Offices with original documents (law firms, architecture firms, libraries, etc.) often have written policies against employees eating at their desks. The danger of spilled food is too great when dealing with one-of-a-kind documents.
Oh No, Odor ~ You may love the smell of fresh haddock or lamb curry, but these may not be the olfactory scents by which your office wishes to be known. The more fragrant the food, the further from your desk it should be consumed.
Unplug You ~ Think of your lunch as a mini-vacation. This is your break, your chance to get away. Put down the mouse, hang up the phone and spend your lunch enjoying a bit of peace and quiet away from your office. And while you are at it, try a couple of mindful deep breaths as your appetizer and then again for dessert.
Desk Potato ~ Most of us have sedentary jobs, sitting in chairs, staring at the computer. When you are not eating, use your lunch for a bit of big muscle activity. Take a walk, jog up and down the stairs, or visit the gym around the corner.
Weight Loss ~ People who eat at their desk are often multi-tasking and therefore minimally aware of what they are eating or how much they are eating. If getting in shape was part of your New Year's resolution, watching what you eat is easier when away from your desk.
Proper Productivity ~ Taking time away from your desk, computer and phone actually makes you more productive when you return. In addition to giving your eyes a break from the computer screen, you have allowed your mind time to process and regroup.
Polished Professional ~ Most employees work in open office environments. Even employees who themselves eat at their desk; regard their co-workers chomping away as less professional. Of course, a solid understanding of gracious dining would help. Even at one's desk, chewing with an open mouth, scattering crumbs everywhere and inhaling one's food are hardly the signs of a polished professional.
January typically brings resolutions to lose weight and exercise more - noble yet challenging goals. Interestingly, those goals are easier to keep when eating away from one's desk. I hope you will join me in adding another goal to your New Year's resolution list. This goal is a challenge to be more mindful and strive to be a bit more professional in the coming year.
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