Could lunch breaks be the way towards better bonding and better teamwork?
25 August 2023
Discover how reimagining traditional lunch breaks, building friendships at work, and creating shared moments for relaxation can enhance team cohesion in today's decentralised work environment. This blog explores the importance of social interactions, wellness, and bonding, offering practical strategies to navigate the evolving world of work successfully.
Technology has reshaped how employees engage with their workplaces. With a reliable and portable Wi-Fi connection, individuals now have the freedom to establish their workstations in various settings such as cafes, their own living rooms, or even while commuting on a train. This phenomenon has become a concrete reality, leading to the emergence of the 'work from anywhere' lifestyle.
- Technology has reshaped work, allowing for the 'work from anywhere' lifestyle, but the challenge lies in maintaining meaningful social interactions among remote employees.
- Building friendships at work is crucial, as research shows that colleagues who are also friends make for more loyal and satisfied employees.
- Creating moments for team gatherings, including team lunches and daily workplace traditions, is essential for strengthening team cohesion.
- Regular breaks, whether in the office or at home, are vital for maintaining motivation and performance, and companies are getting creative to maintain employee engagement.
- Even in remote work scenarios, maintaining social interactions is vital, and simple activities like sharing meals and adjusting communication methods can help.
Initiatives like open office spaces, flexible work arrangements, and remote work options have all been introduced to enhance work culture. However, in pursuing such flexibility, there is a concern about the potential decline in meaningful social interactions among employees. Companies recognise the importance of building strong team cohesion, yet achieving this in an increasingly decentralised professional world presents a unique challenge.
In this context, one intriguing solution might be reimagining traditional lunch breaks. By innovatively redesigning these breaks, organisations may find a way to facilitate and strengthen social bonding among their employees, thus bridging the gap in an evolving and fragmented work environment.
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Benefits of a team lunch
The act of eating together is not just about eating; it builds connections, nurtures creativity, and strengthens the bonds that make teams resilient and productive. In a US Survey, over half (51 percent) of office workers report feeling refreshed after taking a proper lunch break, underlining the positive impact of dedicated lunch breaks on overall well-being
The following are eight compelling benefits that highlight why team lunches deserve significant recognition in your organisational culture:
- Improved communication
Team lunches provide an informal setting where colleagues can converse freely, building better communication and understanding among team members.
- Enhanced team cohesion
Sharing a meal allows team members to relax and connect on a personal level, building trust and camaraderie that extends into the professional world.
- Boosted morale
A break for a team lunch can be a morale booster, offering a brief escape from work and a chance to recharge, leading to a happier, more engaged workforce.
- Increased creativity
Discussing ideas over lunch can spark creativity, as a change of environment and relaxed atmosphere often leads to fresh perspectives and innovative solutions.
- Knowledge sharing
Team lunches facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience, allowing employees to learn from one another and promote professional growth.
- Reduced stress
Taking a break for lunch reduces stress and promotes mental well-being, improving employees' ability to cope with challenges in the workplace.
- Healthier eating habits
Providing team lunch encourages healthier eating choices among employees, leading to improved overall well-being.
- Enhanced company culture
Consistent team lunches become a part of the company's culture, reinforcing a sense of belonging and shared purpose among employees, which contributes to higher retention rates and a positive employer brand.
Incorporating team lunches into an organisations’ routine is a simple yet powerful strategy for nurturing a motivated and innovative team. It's not just about the food; it's about the connections that form around the table, driving the workplace towards success.
Did you know?
According to the Harvard Business Review, employees with strong social connections at work not only enjoy a more satisfying workplace but also experience increased job satisfaction.
New generations, new habits
Generation Y and Z have come of age in a digitally advanced society, where they are accustomed to tailor-made and hyper-personal experiences. They thrive in environments that can accommodate their individual habits, constraints, and desires. These generations reject the one-size-fits-all approach, and they expect their employers to adapt to their unique preferences, even when it comes to something as seemingly mundane as their eating habits.
- One such preference gaining traction is the 'BYOB' trend, which stands for 'bring your own boxes.' Various factors drive this movement, including financial considerations, personal dietary choices, and nutritional concerns. As more employees worldwide bring their own meals to work, traditional catering services that fail to meet their evolving needs are under scrutiny. This shift is compelling companies to reevaluate their cafeteria spaces and meal offerings to better align with these changing expectations.
- A growing trend sees employees having lunch at their desks, consuming meals in front of screens or skipping lunch entirely. Employers should recognise the severity of this trend. CareerBuilder’s survey reports that 61% of employees are burned out on the job. To tackle the alarming employee burnout rate, implementing proactive measures like team lunches becomes crucial. These strategies aim to reduce stress and cultivate a healthier, more productive work environment.
With shifting habits and increasingly demanding careers, employers face a formidable challenge in crafting a practical framework for nurturing team bonds among their employees.
This challenge prompts a fundamental reevaluation of traditional work breaks to create a deeper sense of unity within the company. Yet, the core focus extends beyond taking a break or establishing in-house bonding spaces; it centres on the fundamental purpose and significance of collaboration in the modern workplace.
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Enhancing collaboration in the modern workplace
The modern workplace is witnessing a blend of personal and professional life. Recent Gallup data emphasises the increasing significance of having a "best friend" at work, a trend that has grown amid the rise of remote and hybrid work. These workplace friendships are essential for fostering a positive employee experience, enhancing communication, commitment, and overall collaboration.
While making friends at work can be challenging, creating an environment that encourages these bonds is both possible and crucial for improving collaboration among employees. So, how can employers create an environment to achieve this?
Supporting this, a study conducted by the University of Warwick revealed a significant correlation between happiness and productivity. The research found that happiness in the workplace led to a remarkable 12% spike in productivity. This underscores the value of fostering positive relationships and well-being among employees, enhancing a collaborative and thriving workplace culture.
Creating moments for getting together
When it comes to building stronger teams, there are some great opportunities that often go untapped. For instance, team lunches, short team-building workshops, and even longer training sessions are excellent chances to strengthen teams. Unfortunately, these practices are not used as often as they should be.
In addition to these more formal team-building activities, having daily traditions in the workplace can be a great way to bring employees closer. Some innovative companies have started activities like cooking and eating together. These moments do two important things: they help new team members get to know their colleagues and create a daily time for everyone to come together.
Turning lunch breaks into moments for socialising and relaxing ensures that everyone can enjoy a healthy, balanced meal without any cost. Even better, in today's remote work world, these activities can be done from anywhere and shared online to help everyone stay connected.
Inventing moments for relaxing
Working from home can be stressful, which is why it's crucial to take regular breaks, whether in the office or at home. These breaks could be anything from a quick online game session to a relaxing tea break on the balcony. Regular breaks help keep employees motivated and performing well. These short pauses allow staff to step away from their tasks so that when they return, they feel refreshed and re-energised. That's why companies are getting more creative in redesigning their online experiences and strategies to keep employees engaged and motivated.
Did you know?
According to a 2023 report by Buffer, loneliness was identified as the second most common struggle for remote workers, with 23 percent of respondents expressing this challenge.
So, how can social interaction be combined with working from home?
During the global lockdown, employees experienced a somewhat involuntary test of what the future of work could entail. This period brought challenges like reduced motivation, weakened engagement, trust issues, and a lack of transparency. The need to build and sustain connections among colleagues, especially when working remotely, became crucial. A renowned global consultancy firm has examined this complex problem and identified three essential tools and straightforward activities to implement:
- Be safe and healthy
Set up 'food' routines with colleagues, share meals even at a distance, and meet up to play sports.
- Be digital and flexible
100% online communication can sometimes be challenging to get used to, so do not hesitate to use different communication channels according to projects and the individuals working on them - email, telephone, messaging, and videoconferencing.
- Be actively engaged
Help colleagues/ employees maintain their team commitment by redefining and tailoring their goals and daily rituals to this new way of doing things.
Many organisations recognise that employee wellness can significantly enhance productivity, and they are redefining how non-desk time can be leveraged. Short breaks can refresh, unite, and motivate employees, ultimately benefiting the business. It's undeniable: incorporating new methods to facilitate daily opportunities for connection and bonding will be a pivotal element of the substantial organisational shifts as we navigate through transformative times.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs):
Q: Why are team lunches important in the workplace?
A: Team lunches are essential as they promote better communication, enhance team cohesion, boost morale, and encourage creative problem-solving, ultimately fostering a healthier and more productive work environment.
Q: How often should we have team lunches?
A: The frequency of team lunches can vary based on your company's culture and preferences. It could be a weekly, monthly, or occasional event. The key is to ensure it becomes a regular and anticipated part of your workplace routine.
Q: How can we address the challenge of catering to diverse employee meal preferences and dietary restrictions during team lunches?
A: To accommodate diverse dietary preferences and restrictions among employees, you can consider using the Pluxee Meal Card (formerly Meal Pass). These cards provide employees the flexibility to choose and order their preferred meals from a wide range of options, ensuring everyone's needs are met. It's a convenient and inclusive solution that can enhance the team lunch experience while respecting individual choices.
Q: How can we make team lunches more engaging and meaningful?
A: To enhance the impact of team lunches, consider incorporating themes, discussion topics, or team-building activities during these gatherings. This can make the experience more engaging and productive.
Q: How can we ensure team lunches don't disrupt the workday?
A: You can schedule team lunches strategically, such as during a lunch break or at the end of the work week. This ensures they don't disrupt the workday while providing a refreshing pause.