Brits reveal worst lunchtime crimes as 83% admit work pressures eat into breaks

Swiping someone’s sandwich or feasting on fish top the list of worst workplace lunchtime crimes.

As the working landscape continues to shift, Mug Shot – the popular instant snack brand  –  has polled Brits about the latest lunchtime trends. 

The survey revealed certain types of lunchtime behaviour in the workplace just aren’t acceptable.

Stealing a colleague’s meal was voted public enemy number one.

And almost a fifth of those quizzed said someone tucking into tuna or other sea-related sarnies would make them squirm.


Also making the top five misdemeanours were leaving dirty lunch dishes out for a workmate to wash up, taking up too much room in the communal fridge and leaving aggressive notes in the kitchen.

While lunch breaks were traditionally the highlight of the working day for many Brits, the survey showed 74% of staff often feel they have to skip lunch with 83% blaming heavy workloads and simply being “too busy” – a sentiment shared equally by hybrid and remote workers.

Skipping lunchtime breaks

78% of hybrid workers said they skipped lunch in the workplace compared to 62% when working from home with heavy workloads to blame.

Two in three fully remote workers admitted they ploughed on without a proper lunch break with two thirds citing workload as the reason.

With so much time required for working and even less for socialising, 41% of those polled said they regularly eat lunch alone at their desk while continuing their tasks. 

Taking breaks and detaching from work is said to increase energy levels and decrease exhaustion.


Two in three quizzed said they agreed a lunchtime break was very important for maintaining productivity and wellbeing.

Almost half (48%) of respondents said ideally, they prefer a more relaxing way to spend their lunch including going for a walk, reading, or listening to a podcast. 

And it was those in senior positions such as CEOs, who were twice as likely as other respondents to enjoy a shopping spree.

For a nation that invented afternoon tea and the sandwich, sufficient refreshment break times during the working day now seem to be a thing of the past. 

Back to business

According to the survey data, the average UK worker spends just 36 minutes chomping on their lunch before getting back to business.

So, for those entitled to a one-hour lunch break, this unused time adds up to 94 hours per year – accounting for an average of five weeks annual leave – or 12 eight-hour working days, being handed back. 

Lunch breaks date back to the Industrial Revolution. Eating patterns were defined by long working hours in factories and a noon time meal was introduced to provide sustenance for the hard graft ahead.

Pies were sold outside factories for hungry workers and Britain became the first country in the world to feed people with this industrialised food.  

Lunchtime breaks help us recharge

Emma Boyle, Senior Brand Manager at Mug Shot, said: “It’s so important to take a lunchtime break during the working day to recharge but it seems workload and work-related pressures really are eating more and more into people’s lunch and break times. 

“Having something to eat, switching off your brain for a while, getting some fresh air and chatting with colleagues are all key factors in ensuring a healthy workplace and personal routine.

“These figures show just how many people are skipping their breaks – and also highlight some of the pet peeves of those who do manage to grab some time away from their desks. Being conscientious to those around you is vital to ensure office harmony.

“Almost half of those surveyed said having a quick, healthy and easy-to-prepare snack during their lunch hour was ‘very important’. In these busy and pressured times a filling and warming lunch option that’s ready in just five minutes allows you to make the most of lunch break and maximise they time you have.”



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