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Bring back lunch

A fruitful lunch in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

In recent decades, the working-day lunch has been derided as “a wasteful indulgence”, says David Sax in Bloomberg: an “enemy of productivity” that interrupts the flow of work and leads to the dreaded “lunch coma”, sapping afternoon output. Just before the pandemic, more than 60% of US professionals ate lunch at their desks; it was a “meal for wimps”, in the words of Gordon Gekko, the ruthless stockbroker from Wall Street. But do you know what’s really for wimps? “Sitting at home in your sweatpants, laptop propped up on the kitchen counter, eating questionable hummus on crackers as a Zoom call drones on in the background.”

It’s time to reclaim lunch. Whether we work at home or in an office, our bodies need a change from “spatial monotony” – a 2016 Finnish study found that workers who took a proper break at lunch were more energetic in the afternoon. Untethered from our desks and the “rut of work tasks”, our imaginations are free to wander; chance observations, like an advert noticed on the way to the lift, can germinate into valuable ideas. And conversations over lunch are more organic than stilted, pre-ordained meetings – “peppered with anecdotes and woven through with insights that unspool organically between bites of egg salad”, they’re full of stray comments that can end up as something much greater. “So carve out that hour. Unmoor yourself from your desk, and sail into open waters in search of something tasty.”