Revolution At Lunch: Birmingham Professionals Abandon ‘Al-Desko’ Dining

06 July 2023

A fresh survey reveals a significant shift in workday habits among Birmingham’s professionals, as they decidedly abandon the once-prevalent practice of ‘al-desko’ dining. Marking a stark contrast to the 2012 trend where workers gifted their employers an extra 16 days annually by dining at their desks, today’s professionals are opting for lunchtime liberation.

The study, conducted by the organisers of the Colmore Food Festival, sought to understand how Birmingham’s workforce is tackling their mid-day cravings. A pair of giant pigeons descended onto Birmingham’s Cathedral Square to encourage workers to take part in the survey.

A compelling insight from over 200 respondents reveals a return to dedicated lunch breaks, a far cry from the days when guilt and work pressure led to forgoing these vital respites.

This revelation coincides with the announcement of the free-to-attend Colmore Food Festival, taking place on the 21st and 22nd of July. Celebrating the culinary prowess of the local business district, the event promises an immersive gastronomic experience featuring the city’s top food and drink outlets.

A breakdown of spending habits across sectors shows an interesting disparity. While employees in property and construction industries demonstrate a willingness to spend on their midday meals, their counterparts in marketing and PR appear to be more cost-conscious, opting for budget-friendly meal deals.

In terms of food preferences, sandwiches and salads remain popular, with over half of respondents citing them as their top choice. On average, professionals, including lawyers, accountants, and PR professionals, are spending around £6 daily on their lunchtime meals.

Commenting on the results, Alex Tross, Chair of the Leisure and Hospitality Working Group and joint Vice Chair of the Colmore Business District noted: “It’s heartening to see lunchtime reclaim its rightful place in our workday. Professionals across sectors are taking time away from their desks, supporting local eateries and vendors, and savouring their lunch break.”

Interestingly, the survey also revealed a balance between individuals who prefer to purchase their lunch and those who bring homemade meals, suggesting an increasing trend towards enjoying self-prepared meals.

Breaking down preferences by sector, sandwiches dominate lunch choices for public services and admin professionals, making up a significant 76% of their choices. In contrast, recruitment and HR professionals showcase a taste for variety, indulging in a diverse range of cuisines, with only 2% bringing home-prepared lunches.

But the workday meal habits extend beyond lunchtime. The survey also delved into evening dining routines, revealing a strong preference for pasta dishes among Birmingham’s workforce.

Overall, the survey highlights an uplifting trend: professionals across industries are reclaiming their lunch hour, enjoying well-deserved breaks, and reviving the social and camaraderie aspect of workplace culture. Amidst challenging remote working conditions, this shift reinforces the importance of work-life balance.