What to Read Next

Lunch with coworkers may make you less efficient, study claims

Shereen Dindar
Shine On
August 1, 2013

The rise of desk-lunching is a growing trend in Western culture as an increasing number of busy bee workers resort to eating lunch in front of their computer screens. Professional experts have been telling us the habit is terrible for our mental health, while some even suggest it lessens productivity because our brain is incapable of focusing for too long without a break.

However, new German research casts doubt on the claim that desk lunches reduce our productivity.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, suggests that eating lunch with your coworkers at a restaurant reduces your cognitive functioning, and in turn, makes you less efficient at detail-oriented tasks.

Also see: Easiest ways to stay healthy at work

In a small experiment involving 32 women, participants either ate a solitary meal alone at their desk in a restricted amount of time, or took a short walk to a restaurant for an hour-long lunch with a friend. All meals were identical.

After the meal, women who had a restaurant lunch were calmer and less alert than those who ate at their desks. They also fared more poorly on performance tests of cognitive control and showed decreased control over error monitoring processes.

"Reduced cognitive control is a disadvantage when close self-monitoring of performance and detailed attention to errors is required, such as in numerical processing," the researchers write. "In other situations, [less] cognitive control may be advantageous, such as when social harmony or creativity is desired."

In other words, people in certain jobs or those who have to complete tasks of a specific nature, may benefit from taking a lunch break with their colleagues and shutting their mind off for a temporary period of time.

Also see: Why you should stop working so hard

Kimberly Elsbach, a management professor at UC-Davis who studies the psychology of the workplace, tells Time that getting away from your desk can provide a boost in creativity.

“Never taking a break from very careful thought work actually reduces your ability to be creative,” she says. “It sort of exhausts your cognitive capacity and you’re not able to make the creative connections you can if your brain is more rested. If you’re skipping lunch to continue to push forward in a very intense cognitive capacity, then you’re probably not doing yourself any favours.”

Furthermore, there may be other health reasons to take a lunch break with coworkers. Recent research suggests that sitting for prolonged periods of time can lead to a host of health complications such as an increase risk of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer and high blood pressure.

Join Disney Movie Club Today

Get 4 Disney Movies For $1 With Membership. See Details. Plus, Free Shipping On Your Initial Order!

9 Cards for People Who Have Great Credit

What card offers up to 5% cash back? And which one offers 24/7 concierge service? See the best credit cards of 2016. Apply online, quickly & easily.

Crazy Powerful Tactical Flashlights Selling Fast!

This new tactical flashlight was just released to the public and is flying off shelves in the United States. Limited supplies left, act quick!

Argosy University℠, Washington DC

Enjoy Flexible Learning Formats that Fit Your Busy Lifestyle. Learn More About the Master's and Doctorate Programs AU, Washington DC Offers. Apply Now

$200 Military Flashlight Surplus Dumped

Highly anticipated LumiTact G700 Tactical Flashlight Overrun - Now available to civilian population

Banks Are Worried Homeowners Will Do This.

Homeowners are surprised and furious. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home, you better read this.

Starwood Credit Card

Earn 25,000 Bonus Starpoints®! Use toward Award Nights or Flights.

How Older Men Tighten Their Skin

Men, reduce the look of wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines with this affordable and effective skin tightening treatment without leaving your home.

Insane Navy Seal Flashlight, should it be banned?

The Military has recently released technology that is now available to the public. Get yours before they run out - Limited Supply!

How To Make Sagging Skin Look Tight and Lifted

[Watch] The easy and effective way consumers across the country are improving the look of their wrinkled and sagging skin without cosmetic procedures.

Read This Before You Buy Medigap Plan F

Plan F is the most popular Medicare Supplement plan, but there's another Medigap option you should consider.

Drivers With No Tickets In 3 Years Must Read This

If you drive less than 50 miles per day, there is a way to pay less for auto insurance that few people realize. Are you overpaying?

Military Mortgage Rates In 2016

Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military Takes 1 Min!

Discover resort-style living in Warrenton

The Lakes at Brookside is Gainesville area’s close-knit community featuring large yards, amenities, lakes & low property taxes. Starting in the $400s.