the scientific case for a two-hour lunch break, hearing your phone buzz lowers your productivity, and more

Over at Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I take a look at several big work-related stories in the news right now: the scientific case for a two-hour lunch break, why just hearing your phone buzz can harm your productivity, and more. You can read it here.

{ 103 comments… read them below }

    1. matcha123*

      I also have an hour for lunch. Most of my coworkers eat at their desks. Sometimes they work through lunch.
      But I have to get out of the office for lunch. Breathing fresh air, getting some exercise from walking, and reading forums/checking Facebook really help me get through the rest of the day. I’d love to have an hour to eat and an hour for a nap.

    2. Nashira*

      Serious question: Is a one hour lunch not normal? I’ve admittedly only ever had two jobs, but in both places a one hour lunch (and not working it, since we’re non-exempt) has been the rule.

      Unless you’re doing flex time, in which case you get 30min and can feel the productivity and ability to think just… Vanish. Ugh.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        In the US, a 30-minute lunch is pretty common. If you get a lunch at all. Some industries do have a one-hour lunch as standard, but it’s very common for non-exempt staff to get a 30-minute unpaid lunch. (Often in conjunction with 2 10-15 minute paid breaks.)

        1. over education and underemployed*

          I have a combination: 30 minute unpaid lunch, and both 15 minute paid breaks attached on for a scheduled hour, rather than elsewhere in the day. (That means my workday is 8:30-5 rather than 9-5.)

      2. T3k*

        I’ve only worked at 2 places (not counting internships) and they both allowed an hour for lunch, but I never used that time. I always sat at my desk and ate. Last place I’d take maybe 15-20 mins for myself/lunch, but where I currently am, not much goes on so I eat and work (if there’s anything to do). Plus, it means instead of being at work 9 hours, I can do 8 and have an extra hour to myself at home, which is a big deal atm because I spent just over an hour each day commuting.

        1. Kairi*

          This sounds very similar to what I do. Taking a shorter lunch means leaving at 5 instead of 5:30.

      3. Ad Astra*

        An hour lunch used to be standard, and I see it most with industries that are very traditional in their work culture (banking, finance, law) or with non-exempt workers in office settings. Many white collar offices have switched to the half-hour lunch because that’s enough time to eat and it gets you home a half hour earlier.

        When I was non-exempt at a newspaper, my lunch period varied based on how late I would be working that night. It was a balancing act between keeping myself on track for 40 (and only 40) hours while still meeting the nightly deadline. (This became pretty much impossible to balance once copy editors became solely responsible for online content.)

        1. Ad Astra*

          I forgot to mention that, barring unusually busy circumstances, my newspaper lunch (which was really dinner) was at least an hour and often closer to 90 minutes. Everyone in the office went home or to a restaurant.

        2. Koko*

          My company counts the 8-hour workday as including a 1-hour lunch, with 7 hours spent actually working. It’s great because you can come in late or leave early and make it up by just working through your lunch period. Or you can extend your lunch to 1.5 hours for a leisurely restaurant lunch and just work an extra 30 minutes to make up for it.

      4. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I’ve had a one-hour lunch all the office jobs I’ve worked. The only places I’ve worked with a half-hour lunch have been retail or otherwise customer-service oriented.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Me too–my only half-hour lunch was at a factory job. We also got two fifteen-minute paid breaks (by the buzzer; they staggered it, so first buzzer was certain departments and second buzzer other ones), so we essential got an hour a day.

        2. Hlyssande*

          My (giant industrial) employer (where I am in the AR office) gives a half hour lunch by default and two 10 minute paid breaks.

          I got my hour lunch by changing my hours from 8-4:30 to 7:30-4:30. Otherwise…nope, not so much.

      5. Jennifer M.*

        At my company the Ops manual says 30 min lunch for everyone except the receptionist who gets 1 hour. However, I am exempt and usually am at the office from 9:30-6:45 so I take at least 45 min most days.

      6. Jennifer*

        I’ve mostly just seen an hour lunch, though at my office you have the option to only take 30 and leave a half hour early.

      7. Retail Lifer*

        In retail, we get a half hour if we’re lucky. I sometimes don’t get one at all and have to snack in between customers or scarf down a bagel while walking back from the bathroom.

      8. AGirlCalledFriday*

        As a teacher, I get less than 30 min. The kids get about an hour for lunch/recess, and timing is important because the little kids need to be out of the lunchroom before I come in with my intermediate kids. I walk them in, I make sure they are settled, I hand out lunch cards, and I often have to stay until a lunch monitor appears. This can take 5-10 min depending on the day. So I have generally 20-25 min left – I run to the bathroom and then scarf down food if I can, but I’m constantly getting interrupted. There’s not much time to meet with the principal or other staff, so invariably I’ve got someone stopping by to ask a question, or I need to ask the question. Then there’s the copies I remember that I need, the room is a mess or I need to set up the next lesson, which can take 10-15 min. With all this, I basically have about 10 min on a good day, less on a bad day. Every day except once a week I have to monitor lunch or recess time, so I can’t take any of that time either. It sucks. I can’t wait to work in a different industry where I can actually eat or go to the bathroom.

      9. uh*

        I get 30 minutes and strongly wish I could not take it and leave 30 minutes early instead. 2 hours would be seriously annoying.

      10. _ism_*

        Try a 30 minute lunch where 200 employees are trying to split the use of 5 microwaves and nobody is allowed to start early.

    3. Kelly O*

      We technically get half an hour for lunch, but few people actually take it. Our executives almost never do, and that sets precedent.

      Sometimes I get away, but not often and not with any regularity.

  1. Amber Rose*

    No thanks to the longer lunch. I’d rather have one more hour at home with my family than a 10 hour work day.

    1. KT*

      I am the opposite…I would kill for a 2 hour lunch and would happily work a longer day…of course, by “lunch” I mean “nap time”, but that’s just me :)

    2. Adam*

      That’s how I read it too. Currently I have 30 minutes. I could have an hour if I wanted, but with 30 minutes I get to leave that much sooner. I can see how having two hours to disconnect from work might feel great, but if my 8 hour day suddenly becomes a 10 hour day plus commuting time, then in my standard work day I’d have enough time for work, meals, and then probably right to bed. No thank you.

      1. Adam*

        It occurred to me that this also would put a real strain on people with second jobs. I don’t currently have one, but last Christmas I took a part-time job in addition to my regular 40-hour gig because I REALLY needed the extra money. If two hour lunches were a standard there’s no way I could have made that swing. I had enough trouble traveling between the two on a regular day as it was.

      2. Amber Rose*

        I really enjoy my company’s take on it: my lunch is an hour, but half is paid. So it doesn’t extend my day.

    3. Kyrielle*

      If I were allowed to have the longer lunch *as* work time since it improves productivity, that’d be awesome. If I were told to take it and extend my work day by an hour because it’s not work, though, I’d be in the same spot you are – no way. I want to go pick my boys up from care on time, go home, feed them dinner, etc.

      Not to mention have a little me time, though that’s rarer than I’d like.

    4. Ad Astra*

      In a perfect world, each worker could choose the option that works best for them. I have a hard time re-focusing after a break, so most days I’d rather use that time to run errands or spend time with my family. Occasionally, I’d be happier taking a long lunch, but only if I’m going out to eat. I don’t need two hours to spend in the cafeteria.

      As it stands, I’m at work from 8 to 5 whether I take a lunch or not. I tend to eat at my desk and do some easy work during lunch, but I also take plenty of AAM or Twitter breaks throughout the day so it events out.

      1. T3k*

        Yeah, same here. My personality is just so ingrained in a “can’t sit still” mode, if I’m interrupted, it takes me awhile to get back into focus. At one of my internships, when all the other workers took this 20 min. break and asked why I didn’t join them, I had to explain I just can’t sit still because my mind is going “I could be doing A, or B, or C, D, E…”

    5. matcha123*

      Interesting. I read “two hour lunch break” and I don’t think that means a longer day…I see it as ending at the same time, but with a two hour lunch.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Which has its own problems, since lunch is typically unpaid. I can’t afford to only be paid 6 hours a day.

        1. Ad Astra*

          Even if you were getting paid, you’d lose an hour of productivity. I’m not sure the benefits of the break would make up for a whole hour of work. At least not as a daily practice.

    6. AnonymousaurusRex*

      Yep. Between my 9 hours of work per day (on my 9/80 schedule) and my hour-each-way commute, I tend to skip lunch all together and eat at my desk so I can get home at a reasonable time!

    7. Retail Lifer*

      I would MUCH rather take a shorter lunch as opposed to getting stuck away from home for an extra hour. I already only take a half hour so I can miss the worst part of the morning rush hour on my way in.

  2. BRR*

    Does reading AAM on your lunch break count as disconnecting?

    Really though, my lunch just needs to include a brief nap or at least 10 min to lie down and I’d be a lot better.

        1. Brooke*

          I take naps of 15-20 minutes in my car. Not ideal (it’s not covered parking) but I always feel refreshed once I get over the initial post-nap grogginess. Even better if I drink some coffee just prior to my nap, and it kicks in around the time I wake up.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            My coworker at Exjob did this. He’d go out at lunch and set an alarm and nap in his vehicle.
            “Where’s Hagrid?”
            “He’s at lunch.”
            “Oh, he’s asleep, then.”

            1. Hlyssande*

              I have done this, even in the freezing winter of MN. Both at our old location (open lot) and the new one (covered ramp). If I bundle up in my giant down coat and put on a hat I will be toasty enough to take a quick nap. And if I can’t sleep, I’ll definitely be able to just zone out for awhile.

              At our old office we actually had ‘beds’ in the bathrooms with a shower curtain to mask them. It was wonderful. I could go in there, pull the curtain, and nap. They were super uncomfortable, but it was still great to have the option.

  3. Rebecca*

    No on the 2 hour lunch! I already spend 1 hour and 20 minutes commuting (total) plus usually working 8 1/2 hours and a 1/2 hour unpaid lunch break. This means I have an 11 1/2 hour day already! I want time in the evening to enjoy my life!, not cooling my heels at work for 2 hours in the middle of the day, away from home. No thanks.

  4. MK*

    I do wish people would stop pontificating about things that are mainly subjective. “A two-hour lunch break would boost your productivity!”. Well, it might boost YOUR productivity, but not mine; I am most productive when I concentrate completely on the task at hand and stopping for two whole hours would mess with that, so I work till what I do reaches a natural pause. And I prefer going home sooner than later. I am sure there are people who benefit from a long break in the middle of the day, but it’s rediculous to state it as a universal truth.

    1. Koko*

      To be fair to the author, it doesn’t seem like he was pontificating. Although the article Alison linked doesn’t supply methodology details, it says, “Through neuroscience and psychological research, Davis says scientists have learned how to set up conditions that foster these bursts, and that involves downtime.” This suggests experiments were conducted or experimental literature was reviewed to see which conditions resulted in the most productive output from subjects.

      They also didn’t say there would be a mandated time at which you’d have to take the lunch in their ideal scenario. You could work til what you do reaches a natural pause, and then take your lunch at that time – nobody is saying you need to stop in the middle of a task. In fact, “Davis says the human brain works in brief periods of highly effective output,” which jibes with your own experience: concentrating completely on the task at hand until you reach your natural pause. At that natural pause, your productivity plummets because you’ve temporarily exhausted your brain, so you take your break when you feel that pause so that you can produce more high-quality work when you return from the break: “The second thing the brain needs is periodic breaks to recover from mental fatigue. “If you’re constantly making decisions, it becomes very hard to do important, thoughtful work,” says Davis. “After a break, however, you get a period of great mental energy. You can have two awesome hours of work.””

      1. fposte*

        And it makes a lot of sense to me; it’s how I work on the weekends, and on the weekdays I do pretty much the same thing but later in the day (several hours away after work, return to working in the evenings.)

    2. Retail Lifer*

      I don’t care if I’m more productive; I don’t want to spend another entire hour away from home. My commute is really long and I’m already gone for 11 hours a day. I’d rather have free time.

  5. Anon the Great and Powerful*

    I work from home and usually take a two hour break midday to have lunch and workout. It helps me focus and getmore work done in the afternoon.

    1. puddin*

      This! I would love the ability to eat away from my desk and workout over lunch. I cannot work up a sweat and get clean even in a one hour lunch. But with more time I would be fine and could probably fit in a sammie too.

      And on the no work out days, I could a load of errands done. It would be nice…

    2. Ad Astra*

      I’ve always wondered about people who manage to fit a workout into their lunch break. Do you think they all have 2-hour lunches? Or do I just have a high-maintenance beauty routine?

      1. Koko*

        Maybe a little of both. I sometimes go to the gym in the morning before work. I do 35-40 minutes on the treadmill and then a quick rinse in the gym shower. Like seriously quick – I’m usually a 10-15 minute shower person but my showers at the gym are 5 minutes or less, it’s just about rinsing the sweat off and not about shampooing, conditioning, shaving, moisturizing, etc. My entire time at the gym is under an hour, so if it were closer to my office I could do it in an hour or only slightly more than an hour.

        However, I don’t typically wear makeup (special occasions or random days for funsies only), and my hair care routine consists of combing my hair and drying it. I don’t even always use a hair dryer because combing my hair takes it from dripping wet to merely damp and I don’t mind coming to work with damp hair. It’ll finish air drying within an hour, tops.

      2. Chinook*

        “I’ve always wondered about people who manage to fit a workout into their lunch break. Do you think they all have 2-hour lunches? Or do I just have a high-maintenance beauty routine?”

        I did this and it was a combination of eating while I work, low maintenance beauty routine mixed with low expectations from the boss for the afternoon (she would also work out and understood) and a low impact workout (like yoga or speed walking) that meant a quick shower without having to wash my hair was doable.

        1. BeenThere*

          Ours ended up being an hour and a half and it was okay with everyone, our work day was long as this was an investment bank so even if you disappeared for a two hour lunch once a week you’ve never get asked about it if you were out exercising, playing sport. For our culture it was also part of networking, you really missed out if you didn’t partake and there were lots of options.

    3. ace*

      That’s my dream! I currently do a lunch-time exercise class near my office that usually works out to 1.5 hours (55 min. class + 15 min. travel each way + 5 mins to pickup lunch on my way back) away from the office. I only do it 1x a week because it is a commitment, but I feel so much more refreshed and energized after completing the class.

      1. ace*

        Oh, to answer the other questions: It’s a barre class, so I don’t get particularly sweaty (not enough to require a shower). I don’t reapply makeup afterwards and either leave hair in a ponytail or just brush it out when I get back to my desk.

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      Especially in the winter when it’s cold, dark, and often snowy at quitting time (at least where I am). Midday is the best time to get errands run in winter.

      Of course, I also live close enough to work that while a one-hour lunch (when I can get one) means I can sometimes run home and be there for about 15 minutes if I need to do something really quickly, a two-hour lunch would mean I could actually go home and actually accomplish something so that I don’t have to think about it when I get home and am tired and ready to wind down.

  6. Gallerina*

    I used to work a 9-5 with an hour and a half paid lunch-break with a free lunch every single day. It was amazing and I have also never been more productive in my life. Something about taking a chunk of time that long off in the middle of the day caused me to avoid a mid afternoon slump.

    I miss that job :(

  7. usesofenchantment*

    I have an hour lunch and depending on how traffic is and how quickly I order, sometimes I’m amazed that i still have 20 minutes before I have to head back to work. Other times, I’d love to just take a 30 minute break to replenish my calories and have up to 90 more minutes to take power naps, get some fresh air, or attend to unforeseen matters. My company is very supportive of “get away from your desk, take a 10 minute walk.” Sometimes you need more than 10.

    Taking a consecutive 45 minute break should be mandatory….even if one doesn’t use it to eat.
    Taking a consecutive 60 minute break should be up to the individual employee if the nature of their work allows them to be physically away from a desk/office/workstation and cognitively away from work thoughts.

    Taking a consecutive 120 minute break seems excessive and even wasteful if one wants to leave the office at a decent hour, but, being able to take one as needed would be most appreciated. For instance, if Aislin has already taken a 45 minute lunch break but is contacted by a loved one that requires her to leave her office or make a bazillion phone calls or do internet search for forms for over an hour, she should absolutely be empowered to do so.

    Or, if Marshall has just gotten back from an hour-long lunch and then gets a phone call or an email that completely ruins his day and feels like he needs to clear his head, he should be able to sit in his car or take a walk for an hour if need be. Life happens, we should be allowed to take care of it when it arises and not have to take a day of PTO just to address these things.

    1. AnonPi*

      “Life happens, we should be allowed to take care of it when it arises and not have to take a day of PTO just to address these things.”

      That’s one thing that they are pretty good about where I work is flexibility when needed to do stuff, be it make phone calls, run errands, or in my case spend some time looking at job boards. Long as we aren’t letting major work fall behind or leaving someone else in the lurch by taking off to do stuff, they’re pretty lenient about it.

    2. LCL*

      But if Marshall is doing work that can be dangerous, it is best for him and everyone around him that he uses PTO to go home for the rest of the day. Using PTO for personal difficulties is the honorable way to do it.
      I have seen people try to function at work when they have a personal crisis coming to a head. Their performance is poor, they are distracted, and a danger to themselves and others.

      1. usesofenchantment*

        Yes, if Marshall learns of news that makes him want to break something, yes, he probably should go home — especially if he is self-aware enough to know that he can’t be around people for the rest of the day.

    3. The IT Manager*

      The point of the article seems to be that a long break to disconnect from work and not think about work would be helpful.

      But I agree that great news separate from everything else, it’s not in conjunction with people who want their work day to be as short as possible which is a lot of people. Although if it became habit, a lot of people would move their errands to that two hour window instead of at the end of the day on the weekends. It would be a change/adjustment. I’d personally love that because I could then schedule a workout then which I can’t do during my half hour lunch and still couldn’t do during my previous hour long lunch.

      1. Koko*

        I often daydream about what my ideal workday would be like. I think it would be something like this:

        8:00 am – Wake up
        11:00 am – Begin first work period
        2:30 pm – End first work period
        6:30 pm – Begin second work period
        10:00 pm – End second work period
        12:00 am – Bed

        This is assuming that you have an 8-hour workday but use an hour of it for lunch, so if you split it into two pure work periods it would just be two 3.5-hour periods. The midday break could be from 3-6 instead of 2:30-6:30 if you wanted 8 actual working hours.

        The schedule would work best if you worked from home so the commute didn’t eat up much of your time, and is probably most ideal for me because I don’t like to go out on worknights, anyway. I’d rather have my free time shifted into the late morning and mid-afternoon rather than have 7 solid hours of free time between getting off work and going to bed. (I inevitably spend far too much of that block of time staring dumbly at the TV because by then I’m so exhausted from working all day that I can accomplish almost nothing between getting home and going to bed.) I would work out in the mid-morning when I’m rested and full of energy instead of the battle of willpower it takes to do it after work when I’m exhausted or fighting every instinct I have in order to get up before sunrise so I can still be at work by 9. I would run my errands late afternoon when all the limited hours and service industry places are open and uncrowded, or use the afternoon block to enjoy being outside while the sun was still shining, or maybe even take an afternoon siesta. I’d fix myself dinner as I was settling into the second work period, and wrap up with just enough time left before bed to zone out in front of TV for a couple of hours before falling asleep.

        1. Koko*

          Ooh, actually, I think the ideal would be if you had your “first work period” in the office and your “second work period” at home…so many of us work from home in the evening anyway to catch up on things we didn’t get done during the day, and most of us are probably using our daytime hours inefficiently.

          The first work period could be used for scheduling all meetings so you still got collaboration time with coworkers, and you could enjoy a bit of peace and solitude to focus on some of your more detailed project in the evenings when you’re at home.

  8. AnonPi*

    I was just discussing with a coworker how nice it was to get out of the office for a bit when I had to run into town to the post office the other week – our work site is a good 15min drive to get to town, so folks don’t do it often. Every now and then we’ll run up to our cafeteria on site to try to give ourselves a break from the office since most of us just eat at our desk, but for me its not usually enough to really ‘break away’ mentally. I have thought about taking the time maybe at lunch or early afternoon to spend a half hour or so in the fitness center to break up my day a bit, and most days have the flexibility to do that. But like others have said it kinda sucks making up that time at the end of the day when you just wanna go home. Now if we could get some paid lunch time that would be a different story (even getting half an hour covered would be nice).

  9. Jules*

    When I first got an iPhone, I had notifications on for most apps – thinking this is what the future looks like. After about a month I was getting pavlovian reactions to the ding or buzz; after two months I was actually dreaming about the notifications.
    I turned all notifications off. My life improved greatly.
    I get so annoyed by apps that keep asking to send push notifications now (cough *facebook messenger* cough). A smartphone is supposed to help simplify your life, but they’re making my life worse, not better. And for my work phone, they definitively make me less productive.

    1. Koko*

      ITA! I get sound push notifications for calls and incoming text messages. Those are usually actually time-sensitive personal messages I’m interested in receiving.

      I get silent push notifications for email – personal email pushes 24/7, work email only pushes 8a-6p M-F. I figure if it was urgent they’d call or text, so if they chose to send an email they can wait until the next time I pick up my phone for me to see it. I also use Google’s Priority Inbox and set the default view on the app to Priority, which means it will only push a notification for Important emails. All the unimportant personal emails (which are 95% of sales/deals from various places I shop online) can wait until I’m at a real computer before I archive them without reading any of them.

      Pretty much every other app on my phone I have disabled ALL notifications. Whatever it is, I’m betting it isn’t important and it can wait until the next time I’m bored enough to open that app.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      My push notifications for all apps are off, except texts. I don’t get many of those, but when I do, they’re usually important.

      I just realized that last sentence sounded like I’m the Dos Equis guy.

  10. Lunar*

    Everyone is taking about lunch, but I love the phone thing. My work area is pretty quiet andy phone buzzing (on vibrate while sitting on my desk or in my bag) was starting to get distracting and I worried that it didn’t seem very professional (even though I wasn’t always looking at it). I have turned it to completely silent (no vibrate) and I love that I don’t get that break in concentration or urge to look at the phone both at work and at home. I don’t think I have really missed out on anything by not seeing the text just as it was sent or getting the phone immodestly. I highly endorse turning off the buzzing. The only time I regret it is when I can’t find my phone.

    1. Ad Astra*

      A few of the people I work with insist on bringing their phones to meetings and, despite having pockets (because men’s pants always have pockets), set their phone on the table. It inevitably vibrates on that table and makes a ridiculously loud sound, and it drives me crazy.

      1. Emmy Rae*

        And they are always the same ones who manage to not notice the phone vibrating, which everyone at the whole table can feel, but to which they are magically oblivious.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      I kind of love it when everyone’s phone buzzes simultaneously 15 minutes before the team meeting. We all look up and grin at each other. The rest of the time, not so much – I listen to music from my phone all day, so it’s always nearby, but I I always sit the phone on top of a notebook or stack of paper so it doesn’t vibrate the whole row of desks!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I was in Aldi one afternoon after work and the emergency weather alert tone went off on several phones, including mine. We all fished our phones out and ruh roh, it was a tornado warning! I made it home before it even rained, though. But it’s funny how everyone just sort of looks at each other when that happens!

    3. Koko*

      I definitely feel a little self-conscious if my phone buzzes/chimes too many times around coworkers. I feel like it creates the perception that I probably text at work all day, because people wouldn’t send me a bunch of text messages in the middle of the workday if they weren’t expecting (most likely based on past behavior) that I would answer.

      I am actually not much of a texter and sometimes will go days without sending/receiving any, but I still worry that the random time when it buzzes three times in a row someone is internally judging me as someone who would be sitting in my office texting right now if I weren’t in this meeting.

  11. Elysian*

    When I could set my own schedule (ie while I was studying for the bar exam) I did a solid block of work early in the day, took a long mid-day break (which sometimes included a nap) and then did another big chunk later in the day. It created a longer “day” where I started work at like 6:30am and didn’t finish until 6pm or so, but taking a couple hours off in the middle (plus changing location, usually) did wonders for my afternoon productivity, which is usually in ground. I wish I could go back to that.

  12. fleet feet*

    As an American who relished a felx schedule in the past and whonis currently working in Spain with, yes, an unpaid 2-hour lunch from 2:30-4:30 but in an isolated workplace where getting away isn’t an
    option, I appreciate the claims that flextime benefits productivity. I really do feel like I have to get home and eat so that I have some disgestion time for bed and errands have to be left until Saturdays between 10:00 and 2:00.

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      I was just thinking about the cultural differences in work schedules in France and United Arab Emirates. I think I’ve read in France that a two hour or longer lunch break is normal, but I also believe the French are the Original Foodies.

      In the UAE, the work schedule is broken up over the hottest part of the day. White-collar businesses operate generally from 8am to 2pm and then from about 6/7pm to 8/9pm. During the break, families eat lunch, and take naps. Dinner is typically eaten at 9pm or later, which meant my American stomach needed a snack at 7, while I waited for my favorite restaurants to open at 8pm. I miss the mall hours (not that I’m a shopaholic) – 10am to midnight Saturday thru Wednesday, and then 10am to 2am on Thursday & Friday.

      1. Alma*

        I have heard friends comment on the civilized regard for meals and their consumption in Europe … There is no “coffee to go” or “I’ll take that to go” for meals. (This is heresay, as I have not traveled to Europe.)

        The idea is to sit, savor, and not miss the experience of enjoying the meal. That is so foreign to what I have ever experienced!

        1. Cambridge Comma*

          I’m in almost the exact middle of the continent and just arrived at my desk with both coffee and food to go. And I wasn’t the only one in the coffee shop :-)
          What is true, however, is that in Italy and Spain you might tend to drink a small coffee at the bar in less than a minute, so there would be no need to take it to go.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            Eating at your desk is also common in Europe, however, I know of lots of companies where the staff will go for lunch as a group. At a previous job, we all used to visit the canteen in a group, which was nice as we got to talk to people in other departments.

  13. Kathlynn*

    Given how much my brain likes a 30 min. break, and loves split shifts. I would adore 2 hour breaks. Then again, I read the whole time I’m on my break (as well as eat), and I’ve actually noticed that if I don’t have at least 20 minutes of break I can’t focus as well.
    And since I have no life, and live close to work I wouldn’t mind if it extended my day. (I don’t think I would mind if it extended my day if I lived farther away either, but that’s just me)

  14. Sammie*

    Question for the commenters: Do you really work just 8 hours?

    My average day is 12–I’m not saying I’m producing good work 12 hours-per-day–but that’s my expected availability.
    Maybe it’s a software-industry thing…..

    Sorry for the derailment, Alison–I was just curious.

    1. Kathlynn*

      I work at a gas station. BC Canada has very strict laws* about people not being exempt from overtime (even if salaried employees). So if I were scheduled for more then that my employer would have to pay me over time. But then again, my boss also hates it if you have a life outside of work, and can’t cover shifts. (I don’t like it if you admit you won’t cover for anyone, yet expect people to do so. esp if you also want all the days you request off granted)

      *though I doubt they are enforced very well. And most people don’t realize it

    2. AnonForThisAnswer*

      It depends on the job but I honestly couldn’t imagine spending 12 hours a day at work even if those aren’t all productive hours. I did it for a few months at my former job and it was a big reason I quit (although I was literally working that entire time except my one hour lunch). My mind turns to mush after 8 hours and I start to feel too fatigued to do anything very productive. It was hell and I don’t plan on repeating it ever again if I can avoid it. I have enough trouble with anxiety and depression; long days only make it worse. Maybe someone who doesn’t suffer from those ailments wouldn’t react the same way.

      Regardless, I think it’s unhealthy of companies to expect so many hours from their workers. There really should be a balance. On your deathbed you won’t be looking back at your life wishing you worked more, I can guarantee that. :)

      1. Sammie*

        Yah–it’s “miserable” at best—and there is NO balance.

        Again–maybe it’s an industry trend–but I’m seeing the work hours grow–because the workload has grown.In my department we can “never say no”—-so it’s never done.

        Oh and everything is a PRIORITY—-hence—-12 hour days and crappy work product.

        1. Regina*

          Do we think this will ever change? I am just so depressed about the future going towards this, especially since I suck at sussing out work cultures, and I’m not a special enough snowflake/genius to warrant special benefits.

          I always get my work done in 8 hours, because that’s what I do. It has never been an issue for me at any job prior to now, and I could even do it at this place, but the culture is vastly different. I have had to stay later for facetime purposes, and it drives me crazy. I did have a couple months of actual 60-80 hour work weeks (no lunch break, no breaks at all), and I was at wit’s end. The prospect of that being our future makes me so deeply unhappy, and really makes me want to move abroad (though that’s probably not a realistic option).

          1. Sammie*

            I don’t know…I doubt it. The ALL New American Workplace is 24/7-365…and it’s exhausting.

        2. BeenThere*

          This is my manager he wants more than one thing to be the priority, I don’t know how to explain it to him

      2. Retail Lifer*

        In retail, it’s pretty common to be the only manager there from, say, 9am to 9pm. You’re lucky if you even get 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to sit ann eat sometimes.

        1. Sammie*

          Post college I did a stint in retail management. We used to work “irons”. An “iron” was a 15 hour shift.

          Don’t miss that. Retail is TOUGH!

    3. Ad Astra*

      I really do work just 8 hours, unless I choose to work over my lunch period. Then it’s 9. I don’t have a company laptop and I can’t access my work email from home. There is no reason anyone would call me about a work “emergency.” It’s awesome.

      But it wasn’t always this way, and I’m not confident it will be this way forever. I just got lucky and found a job with a 40-hour culture.

      Anyway, it’s 5. Better go.

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