It happens every day: You walk over to a co-worker's desk and find them chuckling at the online video clip du jour. Startled by your arrival, they hurriedly pause the video and/or click to a different window, removing their headphones to sheepishly ask what you want.
Or are they? Consider this: Almost three quarters of office workers (74 percent) now eat lunch at their desks, with 57 percent snacking at their desks and 31 percent eating breakfast there, according to Prevention.com. So why not take a few minutes to catch up with the outside world or maybe enjoy a laugh or two? Is it any worse than leaving the office to run some errands and buy your lunch elsewhere?
The midday spike in Web traffic is well established, and news and media companies are now catering to this audience by creating new content and timing their posts to coincide with the lunch hour. Among the most popular videos are humor, sports, and political clips.
Yahoo's daily best-of-the-Web segment, "The 9," is produced each day in time for lunch, and programmers at MyDamnChannel.com have been instructed to promote new videos around noon, just when the 2-hour traffic spike is beginning, The New York Times reports.
"Based on the traffic I'm seeing, our nation's productivity is in question," Miguel Monteverde, executive director of AOL Video, told the Times.
It is becoming part of the corporate culture to swap links to the day's best video clips, just as workers used to share stories they had read in the morning paper.
Noah Lehmann-Haupt, the founder of an upscale car rental company in New York, told the Times that video snacking on short clips is "a good excuse to stay at my desk during lunch, which I prefer since it keeps the momentum of the day going."
Your editors, who already were getting some funny looks because of the offbeat websites we frequent (only for strange but true items, of course), admit to subscribing to daily newsletters from The Daily Tube and keeping them in our inbox until lunchtime, when we click on two or three of the most intriguing clips.
But that can be our secret.
Sources: The New York Times, Prevention.com.