By, Lindsey Ward

Lunch. It’s when you just eat food, right? For some, it’s the first meal of the day. For others, they’ve been counting down to its tasty contents since the last slurp of their breakfast cereal. How different could lunch be in the working world? Everybody eats, you think. And you’re right.

In the workplace, lunch can take on many different personalities–here is a basic guide to figure out what type of luncher you want to be, and what the pitfalls of other lunch styles may be. Disclaimer-no actual research went into this article, other than nine years spent in four different workplaces observing lunch choices. Also, there is no way to address the millions of lunch preferences, but these are lunch personalities you are sure to run into sooner rather than later.

The I’m-Too-Busy-to-Lunch

This is the person who either forgets to eat or who sucks down a bowl of soup responding to all 87 emails in their inbox. All different types of folks fall into this category–those that don’t plan out enough time for lunch and/or to get all their work done, those who get so little administrative time during the day they have to get some work done while they eat, and those who think work is fun (and who should probably take an actual break).

The Long Lunch

Feeling restrained by time is not an issue for this carefree lunch enjoyer. They go to that place in town known for it’s glacially slow service. They squeeze in an extra errand every day after the long, leisurely lunch. This person breezes back into the office long after others have moved deep into post-lunch work. While this behavior is totally understandable periodically, others start to notice eventually if it’s a daily occurrence. It’s mostly forgivable if you get the work done, despite the long lunch break. If you don’t get your work done, wear a watch to lunch.

The Power Walker Lunch

Desperate to escape the confines of the office (which some may lovingly refer to as their personal bat cave–hypothetically), this luncher loves getting fresh air and some exercise during the lunch hour. This power walker may also be using their lunch time for walking to squeeze in their workout during their daily jam-packed schedule. Most walkers are pretty social and welcome other walkers (who can keep up). If you’re looking to stretch your legs over lunch, invite someone to walk with you or ask the professional walker in your office if you can join them sometime.

The Special Diet Lunch

This person may be preparing for a special event (e.g. wedding), or trying the latest diet trend, or they are 100% dedicated to their weightlifting lifestyle. You’ll know about this person’s special diet because they will either tell you about it or you will notice they are only consuming smoothies during work hours. It’s typically ok to ask this person about their new program–most people trying a new diet or fitness regime love talking about it. This knowledge can be used to your advantage–finding out about people’s health and fitness goals can be a good way to learn about a colleague.

The Relaxed Lunch

Ready to relax and blow off steam, this luncher does all sorts of things to take a break from their work. They may alternate between long lunches, power walking, watching funny videos, or just spending time with a friend. Lunch time is sacred to this person so they get time away from their desk. This person may also try to eat out at different restaurants with different people during their lunch hours through the week. Inviting others to meet you at a lunch spot is a great way to network (or just have fun) while also trying out a new restaurant. This is a fantastic way to feel more comfortable with a coworker and explore dining options in a new place with a dining buddy at your side.

Why does knowing what to expect from lunches at work matter? It’s good to know that everyone wants different things from their daily schedule, whether that is when they respond to emails, how they start a project, or what they do on their lunch hour.

While some of these lunches may sound more appealing than others, you will likely fall into almost all of these categories at some point. I lean toward the “I’m-Too-Busy-to-Lunch” category but prefer the “Power Walker” or the “Relaxed” when time allows.

Not sure what to do on the first day of work? It’s always safe to bring a packed lunch so you know you have something to eat. But if a colleague invites you to join them for lunch outside the office, go for it! Lunch is a great time to connect with people and to escape your own personal bat cave (that you love very much). Bon appetit!

Lindsey is the associate director with the Career & Leadership Development Center
Lindsey is the associate director with the Career & Leadership Development Center

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