It is easy to get in to the habit of eating at your desk. It seems like you are squishing in some extra work and looking super productive. In fact, you look anti social and usually end up with heartburn.
Lunch was invented for a reason. We need to stop and refuel. It is a chance to change our surroundings and interact with different people. It does not mean you have to spread out the white tablecloth and silverware. Even if you just grab a quick salad or sandwich and sit with a few people, you will head back to your desk feeling refreshed.
The eating area is a common gathering place so you can learn a lot. Not just gossip either. You can hear what other groups are working on, get in on the good jokes and get exposed to a lot of different kinds of food. You never know when you might have to opportunity to share your knowledge of where to get great Korean barbecue with the CFO.
Three other things to consider when deciding what to do about lunch:
Walking through a cube farm with your lunch smells wafting by is not always going to make you popular.
Crumbs in your keyboard is definitely frowned on by IT.
If you are not into eating (diet, Ramadan, cleansing), a walk outside is a great alternative. Especially if you do it with someone else. This can be extremely refreshing. We refer to this as “walk n’ rant”.
So take the time and change your space. It will be worth it.