We have a very nice lunch room with plenty of tables and plenty of room. Is it rude to choose to eat in my cube instead of the lunch room?

I don't think I'm eating super smelly foods (usually soup and fruit), but what offends others may not offend me. No-one has said anything, but often people don't.

I know my personal advantages, but what are the workplace disadvantages?

The reason I ask is because of reading about other situations. I've read where people are offended by what their co-workers do, including eating at their desks, usually when the food is smelly or noisy. I've also read and seen that people don't like to talk to other co-workers when there is a problem, so it's possible to be offending without knowing it. So the question was more of a general one, if I'm avoiding smelly and noisy foods, is it still a bad idea to eat in an area where others are working? (I modified the title question to more closely fit the selected answer.)

  • 8
    I do that everyday, I think it's perfectly fine.
    – BeyondSora
    Apr 28, 2014 at 23:46
  • 1
    I got grief from a client's management once for eating at a cube AND for reading a magazine at a cube, both of which during my lunch break. Needless to say, I hated these control freaks. Check with the management to make sure they have no objection. Apr 29, 2014 at 0:23
  • This will most definitely send out an anti-social vibe. We all have to play that socializing game, it's just part of our jobs (and lifes).
    – René Roth
    Apr 29, 2014 at 10:52
  • Are there challenges you are actually facing reguarding eating food in your cube that you need to overcome. This question is basically asking for a list of answers. May 7, 2014 at 18:48
  • @Chad - the underlying challenge is being able to recognize behavior that MIGHT be detrimental in the workplace, especially when co-workers won't say anything. Workplaces vary, but general guidance can still be useful. May 8, 2014 at 16:00

2 Answers 2


I'm gonna go ahead and be of a different opinion and suggest that you do not make a habit out of eating by your desk.

Fruit and snacks are fine, I don't think anyone would object to that. Also if you just have 10 minutes between meetings to have a quick salad at your desk while reading emails, no problem.

But using your desk as your designated lunch table every day, I don't think that is appropriate.

  • You will make your place of work a mess with food crumbs and what not.
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  • One practical issue I ran into; We have different schedule for emptying trash cans in our kitchen and workplace. Since we are only expected to throw paper in the trash cans by the cubicle, they weren't emptied as often. So a left over banana peel became the source of alot of flies.

  • Others have mentioned smells. You may eat things that, according to you, smell fine. But you cant be sure how others react.

  • Noise. Others may be trying to work, while you are eating right next to them. Listening to someone chewing food while trying to debug a difficult problem can cause a buddhist monk to go postal.

  • For your sake, you should change the scenery every now and then.

    • You might end up sitting next to someone from another project and learn something valuable. Companies usually spend a lot of time and money to come up ways to encourage this kind of informal information sharing.
    • Meeting people that you don't see every day is good for you.

Also keep in mind that even if no one complains or even objects, that doesn't mean they approve. There's always the risk that you are the one user Chris is talking about and you don't know it.

  • 3
    It isn't really very good for your productivity to stay at your desk to eat either. It is much better to take an actual break and go somewhere else. You will be more productive than eating at your desk becaue human being need mental breaks. You don't get one at your desk even if you aren't working (and the computer monitor will more times thn not seduce you into working).
    – HLGEM
    Apr 29, 2014 at 13:30
  • 6
    I am a slob, eat at my desk every day, and have never had ants. Now rats, that another story, but you can't do much about your co-workers. Apr 29, 2014 at 14:13
  • That's such a good answer, with showing the positives of meeting co-workers as well, that I think it may change my behaviour. Apr 29, 2014 at 15:22

Whether or not it's rude may depend on the culture of the company. Every place I have worked, it's generally commonplace and others are not typically annoyed. If you see others eating or snacking at their desks from time to time or regularly, that may give you hints.

The only time it has annoyed me that others were eating at their desk was when they were eating something I'm allergic to and the scent was wafting. If you happen to know someone who sits near you has food allergies to something that is a significant part of your lunch, it would be courteous to go to the lunch room.

Otherwise, presuming it's not fish (which some people hate the odor of), and presuming there's no horrible ant problems in your building or the like, I'd probably continue to eat at my desk if that is what you prefer.

  • 2
    The corollary of that, though, is that if you never see anyone else eating at their desk, and you do have "a very nice lunch room", that might be a hint that this is frowned upon, even if everybody is too polite to say anything. Apr 29, 2014 at 0:12
  • 4
    Smell and noise are the invasive senses here. Someone who chews with his mouth open and eats crunchy food can be just as annoying as the one who eats something that's overly aromatic. Apr 29, 2014 at 3:52
  • 2
    If you time your lunch break with the lunch break of the people around you, they will not be bothered by any sounds are scents. Apr 29, 2014 at 5:26
  • 1
    @PaulHiemstra As far as sounds go, you are right. Smells, though, may linger.
    – Jenny D
    Apr 29, 2014 at 7:07
  • Actually @PaulHiemstra, both can be bothersome even when others are eating. Oct 14, 2014 at 14:15

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