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September 14, 2015

What stops small businesses from offering benefits?

by Katherine Janson for Participaction

My brother lived and worked in Switzerland for a decade, and we would often compare notes on what working life was like over there, versus here in Canada.  When he told his boss that his sister ate her lunch at her desk every day, she laughed.  She thought he was joking!  In his office, a coffee break meant leaving the office with colleagues to walk down to the harbour for a quick espresso at a café, and a stroll back.  In mine, it meant making sure I could knock back my morning coffee without knocking it over into my keyboard.

It’s easy to complain about our work culture here in North America.  But rather than complain about it, I’d prefer to work on changing it.

Here are five great reasons to leave your desk at lunch.

1.  You should sit less.  Sitting is bad for your body, even if you’re active the rest of the time.  You have to break up your sedentary behaviour, and lunchtime is one of the most “acceptable” times to take a break from your chair.

2.  You can talk to people.  Screens are everywhere, and they suck us in with their urgent emails and social feeds.  Making an effort to step away from the screens and interact with real humans will remind you that screens shouldn’t rule our lives.

3.  There is a world outside.  Fresh air, vitamin D, chirping birds, rustling leaves and green trees beckon, even if it’s just in small doses between the tall office buildings.  Connecting with nature and the outdoors reduces stress and, go figure, when you’re outside you’re more likely to be active.

4.  You’ll be more creative.  As Nietzsche said, all truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.  A quick jaunt can bring a flood of new ideas, give you perspective, or just give you something else to think about for a bit.  Let yourself wander and your mind will wander, too.

5.  You’ll be more productive.  Ever heard of the expression,  a change is as good as a break?  Well, when you leave your desk at lunch, you get a change of scenery and a break.  Go to the gym. Browse for birthday cards.  Meet a friend.  Take a few extra steps, get out of your chair and leave your work at your desk.  Hey – the Swiss do it, and last time I checked, they were pretty much admired worldwide for their efficiency!

See if you can take the Inspired By Switzerland No-Desk Lunch Challenge for a week.  Your body and spirit (and maybe even your sticky keyboard) will thank you.

Used with permission from Participaction

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