Procurement · 6 October 2017

Majority of UK employees prefer to spend their lunch hour alone

Businessman in cafe
Reading is a favourite lunchtime activity of office workers

The vast majority of Britain’s office workers would rather spend their lunch hour alone rather than socialise with co-workers, new research has revealed.

As many as 80 per cent of office workers would choose to read a book, exercise or even have a sleep in their lunch hour rather than spend time with their colleagues, with just 20 per cent claiming they’d choose to socialise.

In a survey of 1,500 UK office workers, conducted by office supply company Viking, more than half admitted they wanted to be left to eat in peace during their lunch hour most days, whereas 28 per cent said they preferred to read. Some 17 per cent said they like the idea of having a lunch hour siesta.

The survey asked respondents how fulfilled they were by their lunch hour activities, and although 65 per cent stated they wished they were able to relax more during the break, another 63 per cent claimed they found the time either “very” or “quite” fulfilling.

Part of the reason office workers may feel the need to relax more during their lunch hour is because many often work through their allocated break time, or at least through some of it.

The research revealed that 67 per cent of office workers continue working through their lunch hour at least once a week, with a third of people doing so three or more times a week.

Commenting on the research findings, Viking’s European SEO marketing manager, Chris Evans, said: “The lunch break is a great time for employees to recharge and it seems like in the UK, most people would prefer to do so alone.

“While some well-earned ‘me-time’ is great, what that often means is employees aren’t leaving their desks as often as they should be. Although lunch culture isn’t as huge in the UK as it is in Mediterranean countries (for example), that isn’t to say employees shouldn’t be encouraged to get up and about over lunch so they stay motivated.”

Five favourite lunch hour activities

(1) Exercising – 19 per cent

(2) Using a phone – 18 per cent

(3) Shopping – 17 per cent

(4) Using social media – 15 per cent

(5) Playing with pets – 11 per cent

Read more: Reinventing the lunch hour: Three founders doing things differently

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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