First, I hope you had a fantastic National Fried Chicken Day! Our office spent the lunch hour at Lee’s Café in Downtown Lubbock, chowing down on some of the best chicken I’ve ever had. Take a look at this!
Second, I’m not saying it’s a requirement to getting hired here, but being a foodie is a huge plus when it comes to working in this office.
Whether it be the snacks we keep in the kitchen, the various teas and coffees we keep overstocked, or the office lunch outings we take at least once a week, we keep the foodie magic in the air. I think it’s pretty obvious to our clients how much we appreciate keeping pick-me-up nourishment (and some not-so-nourishing indulgences) around. Perhaps that’s why we attract so many food and beverage based clients! Whatever the reason, I’m not complaining.
You can Google several reasons why having office parties and celebrations improve the work environment, but I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to buy streamers and cake on the daily (unless you want to!).
Here’s my take on why you (as a manager, boss, or authority) should bring more food into the office:
- Morale. It may be cliché, but having meals or snacks in the same vicinity, especially when treating it like, well, a treat, can boost morale and keep your employees more content with their jobs and work environment.
- Rewards. It’s the little things, you know? Speaking of treats, everyone needs something nice every once and a while to rewards themselves for a job well done! Sometimes I need an afternoon snack to carry me through, and sometimes I need to congratulate myself for a fantastic graphic design that got high marks from the client. Whatever it is, I am glad to know I can go grab an apple with peanut butter or brew a steamy single of my favorite hazelnut coffee instead of pouring a lukewarm mug of bitter brown from that morning sprinkled with a powdered creamer that some corporate office approved as cheap enough. Because my office keeps in stock the things I enjoy, I feel my work is valued, and that I can take those much deserved breaks after a few hours of grinding.
- Bonding. I know there is many a show that likes to take advantage of the classic dichotomy between those who want to be friendly with coworkers, and those who hate those who want to be friendly with coworkers. However, in a small firm such as ours, it is important for us all to be somewhat friends since we work so closely together and all on the same projects. Our communication must be solid, thus so should our wavelengths. Spending more time together at office lunches socially allows us to understand what makes each other tick, what ticks each other off, and how to work more efficiently together. Getting to know each other also means we may discover extra skills we didn’t know someone had, and that may birth new ideas for client projects or services we can offer them for those projects.
- Avoid the cranky. Have you ever been hangry? I would say no, but let’s be real. Would anyone admit to a history of hangry-ness? If you keep snacks in the office, none of your co-workers have to experience a mostly undeserved slap of words in their face spawning from your empty stomach. This in turn will help mitigate against losing any points from morale.
- Separate from the office for a bit. We’ve heard of separation of church and state, and we’ve heard of the separation of home and office. I’m proposing that you also keep a separation of office and meals. While keeping snacks in the office kitchen is a good idea, whole meals (I’m talking about you, lunch!) shouldn’t be taken desk-side while you speak between chews into your headset and attempt to keep the few dirty fingers off the keyboard/mouse. Don’t get me wrong, having group lunches in a break room inside the office is fine! Just don’t try to do both jobs at once. I think we can all agree eating is sometimes a task of its own and should not be taken lightly. Pick a day of the week where the whole office goes out to a new or favorite restaurant. If you’re in a crunch, send the intern to pick up some large orders for take-out and have everyone sit at that cute picnic style table in the kitchen. Try new things together. Have some comfort foods together. Whatever you do, just don’t talk about the printer jams or your nutty professional contacts, no matter how much you try to make it sound food related (see what I did there?). Talk about your cousin or your hometown, a new movie or other great food you’ve had. While eating our chicken today, I brought up some tacos I made last night! Take some mental time away from work for lunch, even if you’re still physically there.
- Your stomach will thank you. I think about food a lot. Who doesn’t? We eat 3 times a day. Finding new ways to eat food, like discovering Tai lettuce wraps or pasta boiled in wine, is a good way to start new conversations with coworkers that leaves foodie offices like ours excited and looking forward to something new. What’s even better? Eating that something new. It’s boring eating the same sandwich every day or leftovers from the night before. In a restaurant-thriving city like Lubbock, eating should never be boring. Spice it up while with the office and not just on the weekends!
In case you’re on the fence here, I’ve created some discrediting points to any of your counter points:
- “Malory Archer says that’s how you get ants.” I know, I know, I love that show too. But if you clean up your space and make minimal mess in the first place, you won’t have ants to worry about! Even if you do drip a bit of masala sauce on that cool picnic table in the kitchen, you can always use a bit of that amazingly scented organic cleaning spray in the pantry. That’s just a reason for a happy tummy and a happy nose!
- “I’m horrible at making excuses to make my employees do stuff together.” Fear not, here are even more legitimate reasons: start with birthdays and national holidays, work your way into TGIF style Friday lunches and let your employees pick some places, then finally take a look at this website that lists national food days. Snacks, candy, drinks, and more, this site covers it all.
I hope you take these points to heart, and start incorporating food more in your office, no matter the city. If you discover something amazing, be a dear and share with us on social media.