Marie Claire South Africa
Work Job Break Office Image Credit: Marie Claire South Africa
Work Job Break Office Image Credit: Marie Claire South Africa

The Importance Of Taking Breaks

Lunch hours, weekends and holidays are sacred times that should be used to switch off completely. So why do some of us find it so difficult to disconnect from work? Lynette Bothe is on the case...

Lynette Botha

The French and Spanish do it every day for around two hours, usually with wine. The Germans do it communally. In some parts of Sweden, they do it with a DJ. I’m talking about taking lunch breaks out of the office, something that is apparently (literally) a foreign concept to South Africans. Most of us, myself included, eat lunch at our desks daily.

Common reasons for this include: ‘I have too much work to do’, ‘I need to finish this spreadsheet’ and ‘I just want to clear my inbox’ – all noble but inexcusable reasons to stay at your desk.

According to Richard Denniss, a researcher from The Australia Institute, company culture often contributes to employees spending lunch at their desks. ‘In many workplaces, being seen sitting at your desk has become an important indicator of your commitment to your job,’ he says. ‘But it’s quite clear that people working in that way are not at their most productive. They’re not at their most creative. They’re not at their most communicative. And in the long run, the best staff will leave. It’s a short-term indicator of a productive workplace, to confuse not taking lunch with everything going well.’

While the Americans and Brits are similar to South Africans – all but chained to their desks for the full workday – the Europeans know how to lunch right. In an article for, Daryn Wright notes, ‘The F

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