There is an undercurrent in many offices that makes employees feel guilty about taking a lunch break. Despite being entitled to time away from the desk, research from Mastercard and Ipsos MORI revealed only 17% of British workers take around one hour for lunch, with 12% hardly or ever taking a lunch break at all. Further research from BUPA indicates that almost two thirds of Brits feel unable to take even a 20-minute lunch break.

Skipping lunch can lead to chronic exhaustion, fatigue, lapses of judgment, a desire to indulge in unhealthy food and even sleep disturbances - the latter as cited in the Work Psychology handbook.

But it’s not just what and where you eat lunch, it’s how you do it that also counts. Ben Waber at analytics company Humanyze has hit on the ultimate lunch formula, observing that the most productive employees were those eating with 11 other people. Groups of 9 and 10 were also good but Humanyze found those eating lunch in groups of 3 or less were by far the least productive.

Eating lunch en masse is also good for happiness levels, with the fellows at Oxford University identifying that always eating alone is the single biggest contributor to an overall sense of unhappiness. It’s clear that chatting informally with a large group of people improves output quality and workplace wellbeing, and your office design can positively encourage lunchtime gatherings.

Why not ban crumbs at the keyboard and bring back a property lunchtime? Treat your office to the biggest dining table you can fit in or opt for an island unit with bar stools that people can gather round. Our space planning can show what is achievable with a fresh layout. Let’s meet over lunch to discuss!