Have you taken your lunch break today? If so, how long did it take you to run to the nearest deli and back to the office? The lunch break is an endangered privilege — a right, actually — and not just in the United States. In a survey conducted by OfficeTeam, nearly half (48 percent) of all respondents said their lunch breaks usually last 30 minutes or less. Twenty-nine percent admit to not taking lunch breaks at all. As corporate culture makes us all increasingly similar, it also makes our lunch habits more homogenous. Here are some places where lunch breaks are still, well, breaks.
In Sweden, it’s too cold for al fresco, so there are “al deskos,” daytime raves that office workers attend during their lunch breaks. Participants have to follow something called the Lunch Beat Manifesto, which was written by the founders of the organization that now pushes for these lunch breaks to be instituted worldwide. The rules are simple: you have to dance, you cannot talk about work, and you have to get a free lunch out of it. So far, the phenomenon has spread to Belgium, but maybe it’ll inch (or dance) its way across the pond, preferably before we all turn into workaholic zombies.
I should be a little honest here. When I say we would should do lunch breaks like France, what I mean is we should do lunch breaks like France 20 years ago. Back then, bistros were packed during lunchtimes, when workers could take a leisurely two hours for an afternoon meal. But times have changed. The culprit? Sandwiches. The BBC reports that about two billion sandwiches a year are sold in France. “The French eat an average of 65 sandwiches per second," says food writer Franck Pinay-Rabaroust. As a result of workers being able to gulp down their lunches, the average lunch break in France is now more like 22 minutes.
Employers in factories across China are starting to encourage workers to take power naps during their lunch breaks, reports NBC. Studies suggest that naps that last fewer than 30 minutes not only help you stay alert, but also sharpen your memory retention skills (but only if you don’t forget to nap). China still has a long way to go in terms of humane treatment of factory workers, but this is a good start.
In Spain, the mid-afternoon siesta — a two-hour break between the hours of 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. — is a strongly upheld tradition. The catch? Workers usually stay in the office until 9 p.m. But hey, nobody goes out for dinner in Spain until 10 p.m. anyway. The siesta — also taken in many parts of South America — has been proven to have great cardiovascular benefits. However, that’s not stopping siestas from becoming shorter and shorter as Spain keeps up with the rest of the world.