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Does eating lunch at your desk make you sad? Big data might fix that

Written on:March 8, 2013
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Unlike countries where people stop to have a nice meal in the workday, Americans have a little noon ritual of their own — sitting alone to chomp over the very same keyboard where they spent the rest of the day. According to Sad Desk Lunch, a site to share your lonely workplace sandwiches or microwave meal, 62 percent of Americans eat where they work.

If you find this depressing, take heart: Help may be on the way, thanks to big data study that showed that workers are happier and more Lunch and Deskproductive when they eat with others and socialize during the work day.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Bank of America used data to discover its employees were 10 percent more productive when the company replaced solo breaks with group ones. Meanwhile, data experiments at other firms led them to make a cheerier, more social work place:

The company decided to make its once-dingy cafeteria more inviting, improving the lighting and offering better food, to encourage workers to lunch together, instead of at their desks.

Sound good? Don’t leap up from your sad little desk and pin the Journal article to your boss’s door just yet. There’s a catch. The employers in the article came to the conclusions they did only by sticking sensors on their workers:

Sensors, worn on lanyards or placed on office furniture, record how often staffers get up from their desks, consult other teams and hold meetings [..]  company employees wore iPhone-size badges.. that collected data on their motions, whereabouts, voice levels and conversational patterns.

The Journal report also notes that “bathroom breaks are optional” for those who are monitored and that employees who felt squeamish about the whole thing could wear dummy badges instead.

(Image by Monkey Business Images via Shutterstock)

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