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Don’t let me blow you away with this revelation, but long lunch breaks are the absolute best. With an extra 15-45 minutes tacked onto your break, you feel empowered and refreshed, like you just stuck it to the man and took back some of your life. The problem is the more often you dip into the long break cookie jar, the greater your chances are of getting caught. There’s nothing quite as eye-roll worthy of a critique than “We’ve noticed your lunch breaks have been getting longer. Let’s try to tone that down.” Instead of throwing up the white flag, chalk up some plays to get your lunch freedom back.
If your company uses Lync or Skype, you are going to want to approach this issue first before sneaking out the door at 11:30. If you can adjust settings, change the “away” time to 10 to 15 minutes, instead of 5. It’s not too long that someone may notice you’re still “available” despite no one seeing you for the last 20 minutes, but not too short that as soon as you stand up, you’re “away.” Some IT departments have locked down the settings and doesn’t allow just anyone to adjust anything. If you’re in a department that mandates that you lock your computer if you’re away from your cube, hit the Ctrl+Alt+Delete when you leave. If you’re a typical entry level cube jockey and not dealing with sensitive material, no one should care if your computer is technically not locked. From afar, this screen looks just like the lock screen, but Lync/Skype will keep showing you as active until the time setting switches you to away. You will want to test this out as this might not be a universal trick. If it works, you’ve awarded yourself an additional 5-10 minutes of freedom.
Timing is everything. If you’re walking out the door with your manager at noon and don’t come back until 1:30, you’re asking for a bad performance review. You’ve got to see the lunch trends in the office. If your supervisor leaves at noon every day, take an early 11:15 or 11:30 lunch. There’s a good chance you’ll beat them back to the office even after taking an hour and a half lunch break.
Ocean’s Eleven would have been an extremely short movie if they just grabbed that random collection of well-groomed criminals and went in on a complicated heist with no planning whatsoever. Channel your inner Danny Ocean and overly plan out everything for your great lunch escape. Where are you parking? Which exit do you take? Does your manager have a big meeting at that same time? Make some blueprints or blast the Ocean’s soundtrack if it makes you feel inspired.
Ditch The Car
If you’re in a building where anyone can look out and see your car in the parking lot, ditch the car. I’m not advocating good health by any means, but you might want to walk to lunch. Honestly, that sounds stupid, so I’d suggest grabbing an Uber or carpooling with another co-lunch criminal. Breaking office rules is more fun with others.
Long lunch breaks give employees a sense of freedom and daring bravery in a world where one might spend 2/3rds or more of their waking hours at work, doing something they hate. With an extra 30 minutes of free time, go ahead and order that Oreo Madness you were eyeing at TGI Friday’s. You earned it, champ..