From setting up a desk in the spare bedroom to learning Zoom etiquette, the meaning of “going to work” has changed radically over the last year as the boundaries between home and the office have blurred. Despite working from home and saving time on commuting, too many employees are still skipping lunch, denying themselves the benefits of taking this important midday break. Promoting the benefits of a lunch break can help reenergize employees and help restaurants boost lunchtime takeout business—especially since working from home may be here to stay.
Lunch breaks are becoming more rare
Here’s what we found about employee habits around breaks in a recent survey1:
- No time for lunch: Even though 68% of people who had been working in an office or other in-person environment before the pandemic are now working full-time at home, they’re still having trouble finding time for a lunch break—despite being closer to their own kitchens.
- The disappearing break: Breaks of any kind seem to be becoming increasingly uncommon: Nearly 40 percent (39%) of people say they only occasionally, rarely, or never take breaks during the workday. Nearly a quarter (22%) feel guilty or judged if they step away from work during regular office hours.
- The break gender gap: Women are over twice as likely (67%) not to take a break as men (33%). And when women do take a break, they are more likely to spend it tackling household chores (22% versus 14%).
Breaking for lunch has many benefits
A lunchtime break can provide mental benefits to employees: 94% of employees acknowledge they’re happier when they’re able to take a break. Since a whopping 91% of people report working just as much—if not more—than before the pandemic, being able to stop to enjoy lunch seems more important than ever.
Employees also report that stopping to eat lunch can support their productivity and help them work better. More than 9 in 10 people agree taking a break boosts their creativity and helps them gain a fresh perspective on their tasks. 88% say they return to work feeling refreshed, reenergized, and recharged after taking a break, making lunch an essential part of maintaining mental focus and efficiency throughout the day. Lunch is also a way for workers to indulge: Nearly 60% of employees are likely to order takeout or delivery as a self-care treat during the workday2.
Free toolkit for reclaiming the lunch break
Recognizing the positive impact that taking time for lunch has on employees, Tork previously implemented the Take Back the Lunch Break campaign to increase foot traffic and in-person dining. When Buffalo Wings and Rings took part in the Take Back the Lunch Break campaign in 2019 with special offers and in-store surprises, the results were immediate: a 62% increase in signups to the company’s loyalty program and more than 7,000 check-ins from the existing loyalty program members over two weeks. Since loyalty program customers spend about 10% more than the average patron, the campaign was an undeniable business success.
With the rise of remote work, third-party delivery apps, convenience-minded consumers, and of course the pandemic putting more pressure on restaurants to make up for lost in-person lunch business, the campaign continues to publicize the importance of being able to set work aside in the middle of the day to have a meal, but the focus has shifted to takeout. As a result, this year we’re calling it Take a Break With Takeout. Participants receive a free downloadable toolkit of resources restaurant owners can use to engage and attract to-go customers.
Tips for building your lunchtime business with takeout
Understanding how today’s consumers think and act about ordering food for takeout or delivery can help your restaurant build business during the workweek. Here are some ideas for encouraging more lunchtime business during the week based on our research:
1. Reach out.
Let diners know their business is appreciated in emails and on your social media channels. 44% of people say it makes them feel good to know that they are supporting local restaurants when they order takeout or delivery.
2. Support women.
Remember how women are less likely to take a break during the workday than men? Remind them how important breaks are to their productivity and well-being.
3. Act on consumer insights.
Our free Take a Break with Takeout toolkit includes an infographic with insights on what inspires people to order food for delivery or takeout during the day. Reference the toolkit to assess and improve your restaurant’s operations to better meet diners’ motivations.
4. Offer great value where possible.
Cost is a big factor in diners’ decisions about whether to order a meal: 50% of people who don’t order delivery or takeout cite prices as the reason. Perks like free delivery and special discounts can make them more likely to decide to order in.
5. Meet diners where they are.
Younger diners aged 18-34 order more delivery and takeout than older ones (70% compared to 54% of diners aged 35-54 and 37% of diners over 55), possibly due to the ease of mobile ordering apps. Offer a range of ordering options to meet the needs and preferences of all ages, from a website that’s easy to navigate to responsive, smooth phone service.
6. Keep it fresh.
Limited-time offers such as seasonal menu items and partnerships can help attract diners—25% of people said such promotions would make them more likely to order takeout or delivery.
7. Build connections.
Nurture relationships with diners by offering loyalty program rewards or other gestures of appreciation: 35% of people reported they would be more likely to order delivery or takeout if restaurants offered a small item for free.
8. Get hungry for feedback.
Actively seek diners’ impressions. Online reviews and feedback on third-party ordering apps can encourage more people to dine at your business in the future, both in-person and via delivery or takeout.
Join the campaign to boost your lunchtime business
1. Download the free tools in our Take a Break with Takeout campaign to boost your business during this period of recovery. We have the research, insights, tips, social media templates and AD-a-Glance® dispenser inserts to help encourage your customers to support their favorite restaurants by ordering out.
2. Show how your restaurant uses the campaign materials by sharing a photo on social media with the hashtags #BreakWithTakeout and #Sweepstakes by September 3, 2021. You could win $1,000 towards Tork-sponsored free lunches for your diners. View the official contest rules here.
1,2 2021 third-party custom survey of consumer working habits, as well as takeout and delivery ordering behaviors. Data gathered from more than 1,000 respondents in the U.S. and 600 respondents in Canada.