As employees return to the workplace, it is clear businesses will run differently for the remainder of 2020, to prevent further spread of the COVID 19 virus. Social distancing applies to all parts of a business, not just the place where people spend most of their time, but also entrances and exits, break rooms and canteens.

These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing, especially as having less freedom during lunch hours could lead to employees lacking in motivation and productivity.

However, there are ways employees can fill their lunch breaks while complying with COVID-19 restrictions, which will still leave them feeling happier, healthier, and ready to take on the rest of the afternoon:


Productivity tip #1: Eat mindfully

A lunch break should be for eating lunch. But many are using this time to eat hurriedly, unhealthily, or skipping lunch completely.

Those returning to work and eating lunch while restrictions are in place may benefit from mindful eating, which is a technique that helps you gain control over negative eating habits, often caused by stress and busy workloads. Mindful eating has been shown to boost weight loss, reduce binge eating, and anxiety.

It involves eating slowly, without distraction and noticing the effect food has on your feelings and emotions. Mindful eating will be most successful if employees eliminate distractions, like switching off their computers and putting down their phones during their lunch breaks, which is especially important if staff are not able to spend their full hour away from their desks during workplace COVID 19 restrictions.


Productivity tip #2: Socialise

Humans are social animals. Being around other people makes us happy, boosts our mood and enhances mental performance. Once you have taken the time to eat mindfully, spending the rest of your lunch break socialising can give you the pick-me-up you need to sail through the afternoon’s work.

There’s no doubt COVID-19 restrictions have made this difficult, however, if being physically together isn’t possible, video calling technology means you can still use the time to reconnect and catch-up with friends, family or even colleagues in other departments.


Productivity tip #3: Make time for lunchtime hobbies

Getting caught up in work can leave us worried and unable to see past the day’s deadlines and emails. Use your lunch breaks to plan a daily ‘escape from it all’ by engaging yourself in a great podcast, book or an interesting TV series.

These are also activities, which can be done with minimal movement around buildings, allowing staff to comply with the ongoing COVID health and safety regulations.

Your lunch hour is also the perfect time to exercise, which can boost energy levels, and reset your focus for the rest of the day. Staff will just need to ensure they comply with the current Government regulation on exercise.

In England, you can exercise outside alone or with up to five others from different households. You should still abide by social-distancing rules and ensure you stay at least 2 metres away from the people you do not live with.

It’s important to remember the exercise rules are different in the four countries that make up the UK, so make sure to check the relevant guidelines for your area.


Productivity tip #4 Use workplace catering

Many employers are introducing ‘desk dining’ for returning employees. This means using a catering service designed specifically to meet post-lockdown social distancing guidelines.

For example, Express Vending HUBs now come with hand sanitising stations for both entry and exit points and two-metre stickers to make areas COVID-19 compliant. We’ve also recently upgraded our coffee machines to  new Distance Selection technology to reduce touch points across sites and launched our Beacon App, which makes scanning and transactions completely contact-free.

Purchasing lunch and snacks using in-house catering is not only more convenient, but it also means you are less likely to leave your work site to look for lunch options, which would, of course, heighten the risk of spreading COVID-19 and use up precious time from your lunch break too.

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