This is the number one rule of eating at your desk, and it informs all the rules that follow. Work requires effort, and food is fuel. Don’t be shy about eating at your desk: it’s just future work you’re putting into your mouth, after all. But beware, co-workers don’t like the funk of spicy sausage, aged cheese, or a strong curry.
Protect your work surface
Putting food into your mouth is an intimate process, so you protect the delicate, food-averse technology on your desk. Keyboard covers are a good first step, especially for the clumsy. Just as important is a small armada of napkins spread across your lap.
Choose your foods wisely
It’s important to choose your work food based in part on its ease of consumption and its potential to wreak havoc on your desk. Avoid the squishy – soup is OK as long it’s drank out of a mug.
Offer to share
Even if you doubt they will ever take you up on it, at least go through the motions of offering something to your neighbours. If, even out of reluctant politeness, one does take a tiny bit of a proffered item then your neighbors are also eating at their desks. You are now the leader of the pack, not a pariah. If ordering in a delivery consider asking if you co-workers want to join you. Few things create serious inter-office tension like exclusion from food that looks tasty.
Eating at your desk means everyone knows how hard you are working. So slow down. Chew.
Brushing crumbs onto the floor when you’re done eating isn’t enough. Go ahead and break out a wet wipe or a damp rag. And for god’s sake don’t throw your leftovers in the bin by your desk. Get up, stretch your legs, and walk to the wastebasket in the communal kitchen, to keep those smells from lingering.
Cue up the right kind of work to do with your other hand
The number one rule to eating at your desk is planning out what kind of work you will be doing while you eat. The sad truth is that not all work goes with food. If you are trying to do the wrong kinds of work while you eat, it’s better just to close the screen and focus on getting the food down quickly and efficiently, then focus on your work.