UK office workers are missing out on more than eight hours break time during the month

Casual Creative Freelancer Woman Eating A Sandwich In Front Of A Computer, working lunch

UK office workers are missing out on more than eight hours break time during the month, according to new research.

The research, conducated by flexible office specialist, Workthere, found that UK workers are putting in an additional 20 working days a year by skipping all or some of their lunch breaks.

The findings found that the average employee currently only takes 28 minutes for their lunch breaks, six minutes less than the average of 34 minutes in 2017.

As a result, over an entire year, UK office workers are losing out on a huge 8,320 minutes, which is the equivalent of working an extra 20 days without pay (based on an eight-hour day with an hour lunch break). Interestingly, the number of people skipping their lunch all together has also increased in the last four years, with people now working through their lunch break an average of 1.5 days a week.

Regionally, those in Manchester are taking the shortest lunch breaks at just 23 minutes on average, whereas those in Liverpool are taking the longest breaks at 34 minutes on average.

Women typically skip more lunch breaks then men per month with female workers eating lunch at their desks on average 11 days per months vs. 10 days for males. Their male counterparts were also much more likely to socialise with their co-workers at lunch time compared to women.

Despite a huge focus being put on wellbeing during the recent lockdown restrictions, Workthere’s findings have shown more people are working through their lunch break than before. In 2017, 48 per cent of the respondents said they never skip their lunch break. This year however, the number has fallen to 41 per cent, showing an increase in the number of people feeling the need to work through lunch regularly.

But where is the demand for lunchtime working coming from?

Almost one in ten said they feel pressure from their employer to work through their lunch hour and almost a third say they rarely leave the office at lunch time. In the office, this may be because of managers setting the tone and not taking a lunch break themselves, whereas while working from home, people may feel like they need to prove that they are working to the best of their ability.

Taking a lunch break has clear benefits to employees. More than a third said they worked better in the afternoon if they have left the office at lunch for fresh air. This has increased significantly from over a quarter who said the same in 2017, showing the rising importance and benefits of people stepping away from their desks at lunch.

Parenting, Family, Parental burnout featuredHow parents can maintain a work-life balance once they return to the office

For those parents who’ve been working from home during the lockdown, some will be pleased to hear that offices are starting to re-open and welcome staff back in, presenting a chance for us to catch-up with colleagues and a welcome change from the usual four walls of our home.

But for so many parents, working from home has actually given us more time, thanks to the absence of the daily commute. And that’s more free time for things we love. Whether that’s spending time with family, time spent on hobbies, exercise or just reclaiming time for life’s daily tasks.

Here Emma Ash, a mum-of-three working in tech and co-founder at YoungPlanet, reveals how parents can keep that work/life balance as they return to a physical office.

Close-up image of female hands open or close laptop on white table, work-life balance, working from homeFinding work-life balance in the pandemic

The government’s roadmap out of lockdown has induced sighs of relief across the nation.

While we’re dreaming about what freedom has in store for us – including a trip to the pub, a first meal out or a well needed trip to the hairdresser, there is still a degree of uncertainty ahead of us, particularly when it comes to business. With so much uncertainty still lying ahead, business leaders need to continue prioritising staff wellbeing while fostering an environment that encourages staff to manage their work-life balance effectively.


Speaking about the findings, Cal Lee, Global Head of Workthere, said, “It is interesting to see that as a nation we are taking shorter lunch breaks than we were in 2017.”

“With a massive shift in focus on wellbeing and getting the work life balance right, it is surprising that so many people are not taking their full, entitled lunch break.”

“On the other hand, there seems to be an increased understanding and awareness from those taking breaks, of the clear benefits getting away from your desk can have each day, leading to an increase in productivity.”

“However, there is still a way to go in ensuring more people are breaking up their working day, whether in the office or working from home.

“Our research has shown that those working in flexible office spaces are less likely to spend lunchtimes at their desks, compared to those in more traditional offices.”

“Moving forward, there will be a lot to learn from the flexible office markets.”

“These spaces are typically much more social and collaborative, which not only allows for more breaks from the desk and screen, but in fact, actively encourages it.”

WeAreTheCity covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in business, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

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About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.
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