Over 20 million workers eat lunch alone with desk dining having a negative effect on wellbeing

Almost four-in-ten don’t take a break at all but carry on working as they eat.
-Credit: (Image: Cover Images)


Desk dining could be having a negative effect on the wellbeing of the nation’s workforce as it is revealed 25 million employees regularly eat their lunch alone.

Whether it is grabbing a quick sandwich or reheating leftovers in the home or office microwave, 84% of British workers spend their lunch breaks – if they even take one - solo. Almost four in ten don’t take a break at all but carrying on working as they eat.

Shockingly, 91% of 18-24s always, often, or sometimes, eat lunch alone - more than any other age group. Lunchtimes have traditionally been a time to recharge, catch up with colleagues and swap gossip or ideas in pubs and canteens, but research from Greene King has revealed a culture of snatched and lonely lunch breaks.

These days social media apps are the only companions for almost a third, with 31% spending their well-deserved breaks scrolling on their phones and a significant 38% just carrying on working throughout the day. The research by the pub and brewery group found that 89% of the 2,000 adults polled said eating with others improved their mood. Over a quarter (27%) said lunching with colleagues could be a stress buster and 39% said it helped to develop working relationships and friendships.

Despite this, more than one in ten (12%) UK adults don’t feel confident enough to ask for company at lunchtime, while 11% say their colleagues don't invite others to eat together. With 58% of those polled wishing there were more ways to combat lunchtime loneliness, Greene King’s sponsorship of The Big Lunch and partnership with the Eden Project, designed to bring communities together to share food and friendships, could spur on workers to reclaim the lunch hour and make new mates by winning a free meal for a group of colleagues.

The Eden Project launched the first Big Lunch back in 2009 as a way of trying to bring people together by holding street parties and other local events. The late Queen Elizabeth was so impressed that she asked the Eden Project to create the Big Jubilee Lunch as part of the nation’s celebrations of both her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and the Platinum Jubilee in 2022. The Big Lunch was also part of the official celebrations of King Charles and Queen Camilla’s Coronation last year.

As part of this year's initiative, Greene King will host in-pub events throughout June, hosting events nationwide to bring people together and help reduce loneliness and social isolation. The group is giving three customers the chance to win lunch for them and their co-workers, each worth £500. There are also ten £100 and twenty £50 gift cards up for grabs.

Nick Mackenzie, CEO at Greene King, said: “It’s unfortunate to see how many people regularly eat lunch alone. We know the vital role pubs play in bringing people together and we believe that pubs are the original social network where people come together to socialise and get to know one another.”

Lindsey Brummitt MVO, Eden Project’s Programme Director, said: “We’re bringing people together to create happier and healthier communities and we are delighted to be partnering with Greene King to encourage people to share friendship, food, and fun! The Big Lunch also kicks off the Month of Community from 1-2 June and this year we’re encouraging everyone to make their Big Lunches greener to help the planet too, with lots of top tips on how to make affordable dishes to share, decorations to upcycle and activities to take part in.”

For a chance to win free lunches simply visit the competition website Here and simply complete the form.

For more information on The Big Lunch and how to get involved, visit: https://www.edenprojectcommunities.com/the-big-lunch/the-big-lunch-map