Coffee eases strain as recession lengthens daily grind

As lunch breaks get shorter, tea and coffee breaks may be our only hope of staying sane...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

UK workers are losing out on a whopping 7.4m hours of down time by cutting down their lunch breaks, according to new research. The survey, by Lyons Coffee, found that almost half of us now take lunch breaks of less than half an hour, while less than 30% of us head out into the big wide world on a daily basis. Lyons, which reckons that we’re too nervous about our jobs to spend too much time out of the office, suggests that this isn’t good for us or our companies – and believe it or not, thinks the answer is for us to spend more time drinking coffee. Fancy that...

Not surprisingly, the recession has well and truly put paid to the era of the four-hour ‘working lunch’; these days, nearly 60% of workers leave the office (either to buy their lunch or even for a breath of fresh summer air) less than twice a week. There’s a clear divide in age groups too: younger staff are more likely to leave the office every day for a sarnie, while older colleagues are more likely to stay put (almost half of 45-54 year olds say they hardly ever leave the office for lunch).

The researchers suggest the results may be down to credit crunch-induced competitiveness – with money tight and headcounts being slashed left, right and centre, employees are naturally keen to prove their dedication to the cause. We suspect employee efforts to be more frugal, as opposed to spending £5 on a salad, may also have something to do with it.

Either way, this trend could actually end up being bad for productivity. Almost all of the staff questioned said they felt refocused and more capable of doing their job after a break – whether that involves making a cuppa, visiting the loo, smoking a fag or gossiping with or about colleagues (though hopefully not all at once).

But more coffee breaks apparently won't be good news for Starbucks et al: the research also suggests that cash-strapped caffeine fans are opting for home-brewed stuff, with 64% of us apparently claiming that we’re cutting back on buying coffee from high street retail outlets. Although since this research was done by Lyons, a purveyor of home-brewed coffee, we're going to take that particular finding with a big grain of salt.

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Coffee eases strain as recession lengthens daily grind

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