Eating Lunch With Your Coworkers
At any size company, casual non-work related conversations at the office with your coworkers can be few and far between, for a variety of reasons. Maybe your coworkers smell bad, maybe you sit in isolated cubicles, or maybe management doesn’t promote employee interaction.
I believe getting to know your coworkers is crucial to everyone’s success. After all, you spend at minimum 33% of your time with them every day of the week. One of the best and simplest ways to bridge that gap of engagement and communication is to, at the very least, make it a habit to eat lunch with your coworkers throughout the week.
Why? Well, people much smarter than myself have researched this and have proven that eating lunch with your coworkers can boost productivity, improve teamwork and morale, and strengthen the relationships between employees company-wide.
I work for an awesome, quickly growing software engineering and consulting company named Sourcetoad. Most non-work related conversations and casual small talk is forgone until the lunch hours, because it’s critical that all ours teams’ rhythm and flow isn’t interrupted during peak hours where focus, concentration, and productivity are highest. One of the biggest contributors to the strength of our company culture at Sourcetoad is that we really do make it a point to eat together with our coworkers. Whether it’s a 2, 3, 4, or 15 person lunch, it happens every day.
Kevin Kniffin, a professor and applied behavioral scientist at Cornell University, recently conducted a study that researched how firehouses who eat together are more productive than those who don’t eat together. Kevin says, “From an evolutionary anthropology perspective, eating together has a long, primal tradition as a kind of social glue. That seems to continue in today’s workplaces.” The study suggests that the act of eating meals together is associated with increased cooperation and collaboration, which is also associated with better work-group performance. Companies that encourage this behavior in their culture will see more productivity out of their employees over the long run, especially organizations which have work environments that are highly team-based.
When you make an concerted effort to socialize with your coworkers over a meal, not only will you see an increase in productivity, but you will also improve individual and collective morale and build stronger relationships internally. Enjoying meals as a team allows you to get to know your peers as people instead of just colleagues, because you get to learn about their hobbies, likes and dislikes, senses of humor, things that are important to them, etc. As humans, eating together fosters a sense of belonging and makes experiences more meaningful to us. Naturally, encouraging this in the workplace will breed a healthier and happier atmosphere.
Take it from from someone who has been in amazing company cultures and office environments (and not-so-amazing environments). The companies that promote employees to break bread over meals are better, trust me. It makes your experience at work more fun, you enjoy your career more, you’re happier when you come in and leave work everyday, and your mindset is always fresh and optimistic.