First Sun Employment staff Shellie Gonda, Peter Marchingo, Patti Jacobson and Sharon Lawler take a break.
First Sun Employment staff Shellie Gonda, Peter Marchingo, Patti Jacobson and Sharon Lawler take a break. Crystal Spencer

'Al-desko' dining is in

IT SEEMS the lyrics from Dolly Parton’s hit song Nine to Five hold more merit in the 21st century than in the 1980s, after a new survey found nearly a quarter of office workers only took daily breaks totalling 15 minutes or less for fear their bosses would resent them if they took any longer.

The survey of almost 3000 white-collar workers revealed less than 15 per cent took a full one-hour lunch break, while one in five workers said their boss considered taking a short break like stealing from the company.

The online survey, commissioned by a chocolate manufacturer, also found three-quarters of office workers took only one or two 10 to 15 minute breaks throughout their working day, while two in five workers admitted they could only get away with the same amount of breaks before the boss complained.

But employment consultant Peter Marchingo dismissed the survey’s findings that bosses deemed short breaks were theft.

“It’s not a matter of fear of the boss, but a matter of keeping your job,” he said.

“The Australian work ethic, well that of older Australians, tends to override the need to take prescribed breaks, at least they did before the workplace became so unionised.

“It’s a give and take situation. There is down time if you prioritise.” .

When respondents did find time to eat lunch, three in 10 office workers said they did so at their desk while working, with only one-third taking time out to eat lunch in the office kitchen.

Just 14 per cent of those surveyed said they managed to go out of the office for lunch, with the remainder eating lunch on the run or answering “Lunch? What lunch?”

Mr Marchingo, from Tweed’s First Sun Employment, said office workers needed to understand that eating at your desk, also known as “al-desko” dining, was here to stay.

“The old lunch at the pub is finished, totally gone, finished,” he said.

“The Aussie lunch break went 20 years ago. Just take a look at who’s in the food court between one and two in the afternoon, very few people.”

How office workers spent their time varied, with the majority saying they made a coffee and gossiped in the kitchen, while others chatted with colleagues.

Fewer than 30 per cent went for a walk, less than two in 10 surfed the net, while under 15 per cent had the informal “smoko”.

 

When people do take time out Mr Marchingo suggested office workers should spend the time wisely, grabbing some fresh air.

Career networking website linkme.com.au chief executive officer Campbell Sallabank, whose company conducted the survey, said the inability to say “no” to work was why more than 80 per cent of respondents felt they worked like machines.

“The old lunch at the pub is finished, totally gone, finished.”



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