One comment, in particular, stuck out in my mind. Reddit user: “CivilDiscussions” wrote:
You sound like quite the slacker. In the real world, we have lunch meetings all the time. Lunch isn’t guaranteed to be “your time”
Now THAT is a fascinating take – that wanting to have a break with which to recharge, or to avoid yet another mindless, unproductive meeting, is associated with slacking. The only thing this makes me believe is that people with this mindset have not yet adopted the principles of productivity or efficiency. Instead, they value activity over accomplishment and, therefore, believe attendance at lunchtime working sessions is useful, which is just plain silly.
After reading the comments on reddit, however, i recalled Susan Cain’s book, Quiet, and her Ted talk on The Power of Introverts. The assumption that people are “slackers” simply for their preference to be alone for awhile, especially mid-day after 4-5 hours of listening to other people’s incessant yammering, chatter, shifting, shuffling and noise, is certainly ignorant. For those like me who crave that 30 or 60 minutes of isolation to block out the world and spend a little time doing something that either interests us intently, and/or relaxes us significantly – being chastised for doing what helps us to work seems like something that would cause a loss productivity.
Given that such a significant portion of the population is, in fact, introverted – that only makes the practice of Lunch & Learns that much more difficult to understand. Consider what we know:
- Trying to divide a person’s attention is counter-productive. Eating and working at the same time guarantees a loss of efficiency in both activities and, since time is limited, makes both less effective, too.
- The majority of people out there don’t like their jobs. Throwing more information and activity at them in the same amount of time & space is mind numbing. This either breeds resentment, fatigue resulting in a loss of creativity, or both.
- A very large percentage of people function poorly when they don’t have a chance to “switch off” and re-charge. Once they can do that, however, they are remarkably productive and creative.
Lunch & learn sessions fill what seems like non-productive time with something that feels more useful. What gets missed, however, is the longer-term affects of allowing people to relax, unwind or to even have some time to think about the issues of the day without interruption. Eliminating this time in favor of the vain belief that if people are doing something that feels like work, they must be doing something productive, is simply ignorant and condescending.