The value of eating together

You’ve been in the office since 8 o’clock, wrestling with the enormous piles of work, calls from customers, responding to emails from your manager, drafting reports and lots more to be accomplished for the day. As the clock ticks towards lunchtime you are faced with a choice: Sandwich at the desk, or take a break.

Cornell University study reveals that eating meals together can boost people’s productivity levels at work. Having a nice lunch with colleagues may help build camaraderie and foster deeper work relationships.

During these breaks, while discussions might not resolve issues on the work front, you might feel more relaxed.  This could help you cope with pressures during the next strenuous hours of the day.

Firefighters who eat together, for example, perform better together in their life-or-death line of work than those who don’t.

“There’s a different kind of bonding that comes with sharing food and drink with somebody,” says Kevin Kniffin, visiting assistant professor of organisational behaviour and leadership at Cornell University who authored the study. “The kind of bonding that can come through eating together has value in terms of cohesiveness in the work team.”

As a manager, having a shared lunch with colleagues might help your company in developing a good teamwork spirit.

Lunches with colleagues boosts productivity levels

After studying fire stations for 15 months, Kniffin and his colleagues found that firefighters who ate together worked better together. “Those who don’t fight fires each day can still take away some lessons from the study”, says Kniffin.

In this virtual era, employees frequently pick up tablets and smartphones as their best partners to talk about an issue at work, rather than their real colleagues. Humans are generally social creatures and even if technology could resolve all our work issues we still need to meet people every day and care for real human interactions. Lunch break is a great time to refresh, relax and feel good.

Leave your tasks on mind at your work desk, take a real break (however short) and you might feel more motivated for the rest of the day.

Effective networking tool

It might be impossible for you to know well colleagues working in other departments, but lunch time is a great opportunity to get to know colleagues on a personal individual level.

When you know more people in the office, you get to understand different perspectives on company’s wide goals or talk together for solutions with someone from a very different background.

Helps create happy workplaces

Everybody, regardless of their job role and duration with the company can engage in a casual conversation and this could bring about a friendly work environment that everybody wishes for!

However, it’s always wise to stay off the office gossip, especially if you’re eating in a communal space, chances of being overheard by others hold highest probability.

Closer to my home in Brighton the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership has eating together as one of their core values which they believe fosters a healthy and productive workplaces with a creative culture.