Behavioral psychologist Chantal van der Leest examines our behavior in the workplace: who or what determines our daily decisions? Today: the importance of lunch

    On a note is the login of the computer, but I do not dare to type it in. Between the keys of my ‘new’ keyboard I see sesame seeds, crumbs, dust and threads that can be little more than mold. I watch the whole thing with horror. This can mean little good. Apparently my predecessor always ate her lunch at the computer, unlike what I was told.

    During my job interviews I always explicitly ask about the prevailing lunch culture. How do you have lunch here? It’s a stupid, innocent question that says it all about a company. My future supervisor believed that my team usually took a lunch walk together. But she also immediately confessed that she herself always ate her sandwiches behind the computer and therefore did not know it well: bad omen number one. You want a culture where taking good care of yourself is the norm and where management leads by example. Taking time for lunch is important in this regard.


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    Eating together is what binds us people from way back

    Why? For so many reasons I hardly know where to start. First of all, it’s not good for your body to sit all day, so the lunch break is a welcome time to stretch your legs. It also prevents you from overeating, because you can pay attention to your meal and not mindlessly cram it away.

    Another window on the world

    Your brain is also grateful: away from work and in a different environment. The place where you have the best chance of fresh ideas. People who take time for lunch are a lot more productive afterwards. It is also an important social moment. Eating together has always been what binds us humans. Even if you don’t like your colleagues that much. Aren’t they monsters? At worst, these conversations give you a different window into the world.

    As a company all the more reason to ensure there is a good lunch culture. Management can take the lead by not scheduling lunchtime meetings and expressly taking time off themselves. You may also be able to organize fun get-togethers that promote lunch together. So. That said, I’m off to lunch.

    Want to know more about psychology and work? Read Chantal’s books Why Perfectionists Are Rarely Happy, 13 Tips Against Perfectionism (2021) and Our Fallible Thinking at Work (2018).


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