The days of “Lunch is for Wimps” are over

LunchBack in the late 1980s, everything was about a hard work ethic as the markets and economy boomed. The phrase of “lunch is for wimps” came from the Oliver Stone/Michael Douglas film Wall Street, but it symbolised an era. For a time between 1988 and for the next fifteen years, many corporations explored ideas on how they could increase the productivity of their employees by keeping them at their desk.

But this was all before internet, emails and iPhones. Back in those days, we all believed that we generally worked hard and had a full day. One looks back and has to wonder. We used to have secretaries take phone messages from clients. We maybe had 15-20 letters per day. Work started at 8am and ended by 6pm until the next day. Maybe in such an environment, lunch was not so important.

But we do not live in those days anymore. We live in an era when emails begin at 6am and continue until 9pm. The average executive will receive 150-200 emails per day. Everyone is accessible through Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. There is no privacy. There is little time for reflection. Executives have 45 per cent less time to make accurate decisions.

In today’s market, lunch is not just important – it is essential. If we expect executives to work at increased rates, then there is a need for time away from the desk and most especially, away from the mobile phone. There is a need for an environment where employees and executives can go to reflect, relax and just talk to colleagues for an hour.

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Why? For good HR reasons? No, for productivity. We are asking more and more of everyone and then wondering why more and more people are suffering from lack of sleep, being overweight, and not being as productive.

It is true. Recently at a lunch with a number of experienced professionals from a range of disciplines, it was asked why was it that fee levels had not changed much from the days of pre-Internet. We all have more information, more communication tools, more accessibility to individuals, and yet people are generally not more productive.

lunch 2Could it be for a number of very simple reasons?

  • Tiredness. People need a break in the day.
  • All the extra communication means that we communicate more, but perhaps less effectively?
  • We waste time, as we have the ability to reach our audience quickly.
  • Work is less fun.

In the 80s and 90s we often talked about the balance between serious and fun at work. It is very rare that this ever discussed today.

So how best to find the balance?

Lunchtime – when people can chill, relax and talk informally. A simple break away from intensity.

Hospitality has never been more important. Never has it been so popular and never has it had a more important role to play.

Take lunch and have a break in order to just reflect and talk.

About the author
Ben V Butler writes for eHotelier’s sister print title EP Business in Hospitality.


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