I recently read an article by Joel Spolsky on lunch time at work. Joel discussed the important of the lunch hour and the positive effect it has on the development of your team.
It goes back to childhood, and especially school, particularly Junior High, where who you eat with is of monumental importance. Being in any clique, even if it’s just the nerds, is vastly preferable than eating alone. For loners and geeks, finding people to eat with in the cafeteria at school can be a huge source of stress.
This stress reducer is also a great way to develop the sense of culture within the organization. Taking time to sit down with other people at the organization and talk about anything will go a long way to developing the type of open communication and familiarity that will make the people at the organization more effective in working together on their assigned projects.
The greater the level of familiarity within members of a team or an organization, the greater the ability of the individuals to be able to work together to accomplish the mission of the organization.
With busy work schedules and projects, lunch time a critical hour when we can come together as teams and cultivate our common purpose.
This is one of the reasons why the successful organizations will often times offer free or very cheap lunch for its employees. These organizations know that food at work is not just a perk that is to be checked off as a requirement for companies now a days. They know that having this type of atmosphere goes a long way to developing the type of relationships needed for an organization to be successful. The benefit of the gathering of the individuals at lunch time far outweighs the cost of the food being provided.
Great workplace cultures and places where people love to work at environments where the atmosphere is such that people are emotionally involved, happy, and excited to come to work. Having this type of relationship with team is key to keeping team members happy and emotionally involved with the organization.
Spolsky furthermore says that they even require this type of relationship building within his organization.
The importance of eating together with your co-workers is not negotiable, to me. It’s too important to be left to chance. That’s why we eat together at long tables, not a bunch of little round tables. That’s why when new people start work at the company, they’re not allowed to sit off by themselves in a corner. When we have visitors, they eat together with everyone else.
Will you think twice the next time you grab your lunch and head back to your office or cubicle to work through your lunch hour?