Time poor office workers suffer from eating ‘al desko’ and lunchtime déjà vu

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  • Eating al desko is on the rise with 50% forced to eat lunch at their desk as the average lunch break shrinks to just 32.14 minutes.
  • 32% of Romanians are bored with eating the same thing for lunch everyday, with sandwiches, salads and pasta making up the average lunch menu

Traditionally a time to relax after the morning shift and refuel ahead of the afternoon grind, lunchtimes have become a short and stale affair for many Romanians.

A new study from Uber Eats and YouGov has found that one in four office workers eat the same meal every day, with sandwiches (63%) from home the most popular lunchtime meal. This is closely followed by pizza 51%), burgers (40%) and salad (39%).

Our dwindling lunch repertoire may be a result of the shrinking lunch break, with the average office worker taking just 32 minutes for lunch and an alarming 32% of overworked workers not taking any lunch break at all.  Furthermore, for those that do have a break, eating ‘al desko’ is on the rise with the vast majority 50% eating lunch at their desk or 30% working straight through.

However, lunch habits differ across Europe.Polish are most likely to eat the same meal everyday, while the Dutch have the broadest palette with only 18% eating the same thing for lunch each day. The Polish take the shortest lunch break at 26 minutes, while the Portuguese take the longest at 59 minutes. Romanians (32%) are least likely to take any lunch break at all.

Workaholic Romanians are most likely to eat lunch at their desk, while social Swedes are most likely to eat in a shared space at work.

With more than 84% of Romanians frustrated with their lunchtime routine, orders between 12pm and 2pm now account for 1 in 2 orders on Uber Eats as food delivery apps increasingly replace people’s traditional lunch time habits.

What we eat at lunch

While the majority of office workers are eating sandwiches, pizza and burgers, some more adventurous people are indulging in exotic cuisines such as Thai, Eastern Cuisine and Sushi. When it comes to food delivery, Uber Eats data shows the top five orders are Nicolai, Divan Express Romana, King Rolls, Emte Burger & Street Food Gourmet-Floreasca and Ciorbarie – Dorobanti.

However, for some of us the office kitchen is the source of food, with 22% admitting to snacking on biscuits, crisps and fruit provided by employers. A small minority (2%) even confess to “borrowing” a colleague’s lunch from the office fridge either deliberating or accidentally.

Expert nutritionist Amanda Hamilton, commented: “According to data a full-time employee in the EU works an average 40.3 hours.  However, research has shown that its not possible to concentrate or be productive for that amount of time without a proper break.  The decline in the traditional “lunch hour” means workers are not getting a chance to re-fuel and re-fresh.  It’s critical that people make good lunch time choices to ensure they feel at their best during the working hours.”

When we eat at lunch

Lunch time is very much a middle of the day activity with 61% eating lunch between 12pm and 1pm.  Across Europe only the Spanish eat later, averaging between 1pm and 2pm. This is supported by Uber Eats data which shows a peak in orders at 12pm on a Thursday.  During the lunch break 57% of workers try to grab a chat and gossip with colleagues, but a lonely 53% surf the internet.  Only 4% try to get some exercise.

The rise of lunch on demand

With the meteoric rise in food delivery in Romania many locals are turning to apps like Uber Eats to satisfy their lunch time hunger pangs. According to the study, 60% of workers feel the benefit of these apps is the ability to eat a hot meal at lunchtime, while 32% would love to use an app so they don’t have to prepare their own meal, and a further 45% like the number of meal options available to them.

 “For many Romanians lunch time has boring a short and boring affair. At Uber Eats we believe everybody should be able to enjoy their meal times, whatever they are doing and wherever life is taking them. That’s why we’re partnering with dozen of restaurants in [city/country] to offer fresh and affordable lunch time meals for just €5 everyday this week,” said the Răzvan Voicu General Manager, Uber Eats Romania.

To help workers from Bucharest enjoy a fulfilling lunch break, Uber Eats proposes them to order the lunch in the park and try something new every day from over 400 restaurants in the app. New users entering the Eats4pranz promo-code will have a discount of 25 lei for the next two lunches, the discount being valid until the end of the year.

The study of European employees’ lunch habits was conducted on a sample of over 8,000 adults from Austria, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden.

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