Is it ok to eat at your desk?
30th July 2019
By Esmée Hardwick-Slack
The majority of people in an office will eat at their desks. Whether it’s a quick mid-morning snack to get you through till lunch, or you’re just too busy to step away from your screen, we’re all guilty of getting a few crumbs in the keyboard. However, the crunching sounds of crisps and wrappers and the smell of a freshly unwrapped egg and cress sandwich may be a bit too much for even the easiest going colleagues.
There are very few offices that implement rules against eating at your desk, but should firms be getting tougher about munching while you work? Is there even any benefit to eating in front of your computer? Or should we all be taking the time away from our desks to enjoy our lunch?
Katie Hope, a business reporter for the BBC asked her LinkedIn connections if there were any workplace rules for what you can and cannot eat at your desk. Some of the responses included "Egg sandwiches smell out the office, probably one of the nastiest anti-social foods in the Western hemisphere," and “Twiglets should be banned from all offices - especially when two or three bags are eaten in succession - far too much crunching, deafening". But there are those who support eating at desks saying it would be “draconian or too paternalistic” to ban it all together, instead suggesting that firms should be doing more to encourage people to eat away from their desks.
Many others brought up similar points, claiming the problem with eating at your desk isn’t the fact that it’s messy or will annoy your colleagues, it’s about staff wellbeing. Employers should be encouraging their staff to take time away from their computers to eat, have a break and mentally reset. This will benefit productivity and prevent employees from burning out. Health journalist Christopher Wanjek found in his book 'Food At Work' that those who work through lunch are often more stressed and less productive.
So, if you want to stop your employees from eating at their desk then you should encourage the idea that they’re not expected to work non-stop, and that they should step away from their desks and computers, whether that be to a break-out space or out of the office completely. It’ll prevent them from burning out and stop your office smelling of tuna!