Dining at Your Desk: 16 Dos and Don’ts

Eat lunch at your desk? Keep these tips in mind

Dining at Your Desk: 16 Dos and Don’ts

How many times per week do you eat lunch at your desk at work? Once? Twice? Every day? Whether you’re a daily desk-diner or only do it once in a blue moon, there are some important tips to keep in mind.

DON’T: Make It a Habit

If you eat lunch at your desk every day, knock it off. Your lunch break is the time when you should get up and get your muscles moving and your blood pumping, and to take your mind off of the daily grind for a little while. 

DO: Make Time to Get Away From Your Desk

DO: Make Time to Get Away From Your Desk

Photo Modified: Flickr / Vasilis / CC BY 4.0

Even if you have to work the time away from your desk into your schedule a few days a week, figure out a way to get it done. And even if you bring your lunch with you, take it to the nearest park bench. 

DON’T: Answer Calls While Eating

If you’ve ever been on the phone with someone who clearly had his or her mouth full, you’ll know how gross it is. 

DO: Use the Time to Do as Little Work as Possible

DO: Use the Time to Do as Little Work as Possible

Shutterstock

Getting off of the phone is only the first step. If you have to eat at your desk, make sure that you don’t spend the entire time working. Flip through a magazine, chat with your coworkers… do anything but more work. It’s called your lunch break for a reason. 

DON’T: Leave a Mess

Our desks are disgusting bacteria breeding grounds. Seriously, turn your keyboard upside-down and see how many crumbs fall out. You should get in the habit of wiping your desk, keyboard, and phone down with a disinfecting wipe every day, and especially after eating. 

DO: Clean up After Yourself

DO: Clean up After Yourself

Photo Modified: Flickr / Erin Kohlenberg / CC BY 4.0

Don’t just throw your trash into your personal wastebasket; throw it out in the office kitchen, if there is one. There should be no trace of your lunch anywhere near your desk after you’re done with it. 

DON’T: Eat Anything Stinky

Eating an overly-pungent lunch at your desk is one of the biggest office faux-pas around. Foods like tuna melts, hard-boiled eggs, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, hot dogs, and seafood should be absolute no-nos. 

DO: Stick to Neutral-Smelling Foods

DO: Stick to Neutral-Smelling Foods

Shutterstock

Hot foods tend to have a stronger smell than cold foods, so try to stick to salads and sandwiches if you can. 

DON’T: Eat Right Next to Your Computer

DON’T: Eat Right Next to Your Computer

Photo Modified: Flickr / Taiyo FUJII / CC BY 4.0

Eating in front of your computer has the double effect of making a mess and making you more likely to not actually put your work down while you’re eating.

DO: Create a Separate Eating Space

Even if it’s just a couple feet closer to the end of your desk, move away from the computer and create a separate space for yourself. It’ll help to take you away from work, even if it’s just a little bit.

DON’T: Eat at a Weird Hour

If you’re the kind of person who eats lunch at their desk at 4 p.m., you might want to reconsider. People tend to eat lunch during normal lunch hours, and you should join the club.

DO: Time Your Meal to When Others are Eating

DO: Time Your Meal to When Others are Eating

Photo Modified: Flickr / Zhao ! / CC BY 4.0

Eating lunch at your desk can be a little bit of an awkward affair for everyone involved. But if you just time your lunch to when others are eating, your neighbors probably won’t notice your chewing noises as much.

DON’T: Be Careless

DON’T: Be Careless

Photo Modified: Flickr / Werwin15 / CC BY 4.0

If you drip something onto your desk or drop something onto the floor, pick it up. Be aware of the fact that someone is sitting a few feet from you, so try not to make too many gross mouth noises. Especially that thing where people try to get at something stuck in their teeth with their tongue. 

DO: Make Sure Your Neighbor Is OK With It

DO: Make Sure Your Neighbor Is OK With It

Shutterstock

It’s a common courtesy to double-check with your neighbor that it’s OK with them before you eat lunch at your desk. Some people have a major sensitivity to other people’s chewing noises and food smells, as well as allergies to things like peanuts.

DON’T: Leave It Sitting Out for Too Long

DON’T: Leave It Sitting Out for Too Long

Photo Modified: Flickr / Lachlan Hardy / CC BY 4.0

Smelly food doesn’t get less smelly over time. Eat your lunch within a reasonable amount of time, then dispose of the evidence and move on with your day. 

DO: Make Sure It’s Gone Within Two Hours

After sitting out for a couple hours, not only does food start to get crusty, but it also enters the “danger zone” where bacteria begins to multiply. That egg salad sandwich that’s been sitting out for three hours? It stinks, and it’s going to make you sick.