Workers Log An Extra 16 Days A Year, Gobbling Lunch At Desk

eating lunch on the job

It's no secret that Americans are working longer and harder than ever. Now, a new poll shows more of us are forgoing the lunch hour and opting instead for a quick bite huddled over our keyboards.

A recent survey of workers found that 62 percent of those with desk jobs typically ate lunch at their desks. The most common reason given was to save time and money, according to the 2011 study by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Conagra Foods, which focused on food safety.

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And all that time adds up. A similar study in Britain found that workers who forgo a standard 60-minute lunch break by eating at their desks will work an extra 128 hours a year, or an additional 16 workdays.

In the U.S. there is no federal law requiring companies to provide lunch breaks, but 22 states have meal-break laws, USA Today notes.

Beyond saving money, Americans are keen on keeping their jobs and being more productive, Cynthia Fukami, a management professor at the University of Denver told the Denver Post.

But, she warns, "It may look like you're getting more done, but eventually workers burn out, so breaks are good."

More: Top 10 Soft Skills For Job Hunters

Of course, lunch breaks aren't the only workplace tradition falling by the wayside. Americans' prized vacations also aren't immune to their desire to keep up on work.

Results from a poll of more than 1,300 adults due out next week show that 52 percent of workers expect to work during their summer vacations, up 6 percentage points from a similar survey taken a year ago.

Regardless of whether they work full- or part-time, or are self employed, respondents to the 2012 poll, conducted by Harris Interactive for virtual-meetings software-maker TeamViewer, said that they expect to perform a variety of tasks while on vacation.

Among the duties that workers anticipated doing while vacationing this summer are:

  • Reading work-related emails -- reported by 30 percent of respondents.
  • Receiving work-related phone calls -- 23 percent.
  • Receiving work-related text messages -- 18 percent.
  • Being asked to do work by a boss, client or colleague -- 13 percent.

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David Schepp

Staff Writer

David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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I usually type through my breaks but that's because I get paid for how much I get done. :( Bored out of my gourd.

July 15 2012 at 7:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Anyone who doesn't get up, leave their desk, and take a break at lunch is an idiot.

July 15 2012 at 6:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mad Dog

The only people in America that want you to take a vacation are the travel agents. Seems like their business is doing bad. Hint Hint: every business is doing bad so there is no time for vacation. Where I work yopu get two weeks vacation a year. One week is the 4th of July week and the other is Christmas week. The business is closed during these two weeks. So much for a real vacation.

July 15 2012 at 6:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

ThIs is just disgusting when there are so many people out of work who could improve the situation for everyone except Wall Street and the 1% because they couldn't get their $$$$$$$$$ bonuses.

July 12 2012 at 7:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Why bother to take a vacation. Just wear a Hawaiian shirt to work.
"Among the duties that workers anticipated doing while vacationing this summer are:
•Reading work-related emails -- reported by 30 percent of respondents.
•Receiving work-related phone calls -- 23 percent.
•Receiving work-related text messages -- 18 percent.
•Being asked to do work by a boss, client or colleague -- 13 percent."

July 12 2012 at 7:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Doesn't matter where I eat lunch. It is my choice and my time. I prefer the desk style because I don't have to hustle and bustle and be worried about being late returning. For me it just fits better.

July 12 2012 at 12:48 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

In Japan the term used to decribe death on the job is Karoshi. In light of the poor job situation, American businesses have been only too happy to embrace a Karoshi-like attitude.

Greedy, uncaring business owners love it when they downsize their staffs and dump loads of extra work on the already overburdened employees who remain.

And when you keel over with a stroke or a heart attack at your job I doubt your family will get so much as a card of condolences from the boss.

July 12 2012 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gosoaring10's comment

Hey, I put a Thumbs-up, even though it doesn't show. You are 100% correct in your statements. It is why over the last 30 years Poductivity has risen but not wages. This is why there are UNIONS and the 1%, Wall Street, Corporations, and Chamber of Commerce want to DESTROY them by any means possible including killing them. Check your history. What is disgusting is the STUPID Amerikan people can't wait to criticize them and put Union hating, tools of the 1% into office!

July 12 2012 at 7:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Johnny plant

I make it a point every day to go outside to eat my lunch and also take 2 fifteen minute breaks outside. Its a proven fact doing so keeps you more mentally stable and emotionally well. Although my co workers frown on my doing it, some even jealous and have reported to my boss that I am a slacker for doing so. The way I work so hard, I deserve the time and our policy states we have the right to do so in our company. Leaving the job for 30 minutes and coming back gives me a new perpspective on the work that needs to be done, and I feel revived. People are so strange, actually afraid to go outside to eat or take breaks for they believe they will be seen as a slackers. We live in so much fear of all the scary things happening in the world, and now to afraid to go outside for lunch in illogical fear they may lose thier jobs over it, sad. I look at it this way, my company should be grateful I stay, and grateful for the fine work I do, I give 110 % to my job. Dont fear looking like a slacker, go out and breathe in the air, with a fine fibre mask that is, due to the chemtrails.

July 12 2012 at 7:52 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Johnny plant's comment

I worked on a project 2 years ago where a class-actions suit had been filed against a major retail chain that had been withholding breaks from their employees. The Companies, especially retail, will treat their employees like SLAVES if they are not FORCED to treat them like Humans. The Companies are almost as bad as the Customers.

July 12 2012 at 7:52 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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