office worker eating salad at work


The importance of eating well at work

The world of work has changed markedly since 2020. Widespread adoption of remote, hybrid and flexible working, initially as a public health and legal imperative during the height of the covid pandemic, has been widely embraced by organisations and their employees.

Indeed, offering workers more flexibility in when, where and how they work has shifted work-life balance to healthier levels.

Furthermore, the pandemic period shone a bright spotlight on the general health of the UK population, and people have responded in kind – a survey commissioned by the British Nutrition Foundation in 2021 revealed that 62% of Brits made a change to their diet in a bid to boost their health.

As workplaces have reopened, a greater proportion of people’s time, and thus food, is being consumed in the office. Whether it’s a quick breakfast before getting started, mid-morning snack, lunch or even dinner on the late shift, what is eaten at work has a big say in the overall diet of workers.

Good health supports happiness and productivity

It is therefore important to eat well at the office to promote a healthy lifestyle and reap the many associated benefits.

One is happiness. A study which leveraged advanced statistical techniques to examine data from 40,000 UK households, published in 2022, concluded that healthy eating (and healthy living in general) has a positive impact on happiness.

What’s more, another piece of research from Oxford University and BT found that happy workers are 13% more productive in what they describe as a “conclusive link between happiness and productivity”. Beyond productivity and performance, happier workers make for a better atmosphere across the entire workspace and may even inspire other colleagues to follow suit.

On the flipside, poor diets and eating habits have been shown to hamper performance at work. For instance, low and fluctuating blood sugar levels can shorten attention span and slow information processing.

And worryingly, workers with unhealthy diets are two thirds more likely to suffer a loss in productivity, with poor eating habits reported to cost UK employers an eye-watering 97 million lost working days – in monetary terms, this equates to around £17 billion a year. More broadly speaking, the cost of an unhealthy workforce, according to government figures, is some £60 billion per year.

A well-balanced diet therefore increases the likelihood of being happier and more productive at work – eating regular, well-balanced meals and drinking plenty of water as part of a healthy lifestyle can help workers to maintain their overall health, wellbeing and productivity.

This is achieved in several ways. For example, in terms of brain power, eating a variety of healthy foods has been shown to boost memory, concentration and overall brain function – in turn, this has a direct impact on moods and attitudes.

There is also a consensus that healthy, balanced diets are associated with boosted mental health and fewer incidences of depression and anxiety. And nutrients found in healthy foods have been shown to help workers to relax, and even achieve a better quality of sleep, which is vital in coming into the workplace energised the next day.

Absenteeism is also less likely, not least because eating well boosts immune systems and strengthens defences against chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

How can I eat well at work?

However, despite all these advantages, a common perception is that supporting healthy eating in the workplace is made difficult by the fact that employees and workers are often too time-poor and under pressure to get the hours in.

This is a key reason why taking adequate breaks is so important. Workers need to be given the time to prepare and/or enjoy healthy food that can go on to stimulate them through the next period of the working day.

And there are several ways to enjoy healthy food at work.

Many will prepare and bring in their own food and snacks – a tip here is to always have a few healthy snacks in your desk drawer if time does get away. Nut and seed blends are perfect for this, as they contain fibre and protein, as well as fats which help the body to store energy.

Some workspaces will also offer on-site catering in the form of a café, canteen or restaurant.

At Hartham Park, our café provides the perfect space to relax and enjoy freshly prepared, healthy snacks and meals. Whether it’s sandwiches, salads, soups and many other choices in between, we make sure it is possible to maintain a healthy and balanced diet while working in our offices and meeting spaces.  Check out the menus here.


Like 2
Like 2