Eating lunch at the desk is perceived in some office cultures as a sure sign you’re completely overworked –or brown-nosing the boss– but an intriguing new study suggests noshing at your desk is okay, as long as you’ve made the choice to do it.
In a study that looked at work recovery—including how employees decompress, beat stress, burnout and fatigue on the job– researchers at the University of Toronto have found making the choice to eat at your desk didn’t seem to elevate the stress levels of workers who had the freedom and flexibility to spend their meal breaks as they chose.
Interestingly, researchers suggested that working through lunch may even help ease some workers stress, by giving them a sense they were on top of their professional obligations and can leave the office for the day with their tasks in order.
Conversely, they noted socializing with co-workers can actually diminish relaxation if conversations focus too much on work!
“You’re hanging out with people who you can’t necessarily kick back and be yourself with,” says John Trougakos, one of the University of Toronto professors who authored the research that was recently published in the Academy of Management Journal. Certainly it’s all food for thought.