For some time now, the culture of long lingering lunches has been replaced by a quick meal at the desk. Reasons for this lifestyle shift range from meeting impossible deadlines, overachieving at work, to simply wanting to spend more time with family.
According to a Gallup survey, nearly 67 percent of American workers eat at their desk more than once a week. Known best for their laissez-faire attitude, even the French are moving toward fast food to cut down on lunch breaks. So when scarfing down a sandwich or salad at your workstation becomes the order of the day, keep this workplace lunch etiquette in mind.
Eat your lunch at lunchtime
While eating at your desk gives you the flexibility of making any hour your lunch hour, it is best that you eat at your desk during typical lunch hours. Entrepreneur.com reports, “If everyone around you is eating, you’re less likely to annoy people or distract your officemates.” Think about it this way: your co-workers are less likely to bother you if they’re busy eating too.
Choose your meal wisely
Some foods, as delicious as they may be, smell funny. And by funny, we mean they stink. And by that we mean, you better eat them anywhere but the office.
Look no further than your neighbor’s cubicle to understand the type of foods you should reconsider bringing to the office. Avoid any pungent dish that sends your co-worker running for fresh air or makes you the butt of endless lunch jokes. Fast Company gives a list of stinky lunches they’d like to ban from offices everywhere. If you can’t live without some or all of these things, there’s nothing stopping you from eating them outside!
There are few things more annoying than a noisy eater. Loud eaters are among the ten most irritating co-workers people have to deal with every day. How do you know if you’re a noisy eater? (Hint: Co-workers around you wear their headphones when you eat at your desk.) Firstwefeast.com says, “There’s something unpleasantly intimate about hearing what goes on inside someone’s mouth, especially when it’s forced on you without warning—like an old college friend Instagramming his colonoscopy.”
Loud eating can be caused by a nasal condition or just bad etiquette. In both these cases, chew your food slowly to avoid being the orchestrator of a lunchtime cacophony— it will do you all sorts of good.
Mind your (desk) manners
Leftovers are good but the spaces in your keyboard are not the ideal place for them. How you eat at your desk and clean up after that says a lot about how you eat at your dinner table. Spills and crumbs should be cleaned up and wrappers thrown away if you want to prevent bacteria from invading your cubicle. Did you know that your desk collects 400 times more bacteria than a toilet? The lesson to take away from this is to not eat in the restroom but to disinfect your desk more frequently.
Turn off your phone
You already have your hands full (with the Panini you’re eating) and the emails you’re scraping through; you shouldn’t have to take calls too. If your job profile isn’t one that requires being on calls at all times, it is best you leave your phone out of sight.
Once you’ve followed all the rules of eating at your desk, there’s only one thing left to do. Step outside and get some fresh air.