I like eating food, but I love sharing that experience with others more. Something I’ve learned early on in my career is that other people tend to feel the same way. Getting lunch or grabbing a drink can be just as productive for the workplace as shipping a product or having meetings.
These are my thoughts on eating with coworkers.
You have to eat anyway, and food is friendly.
News Flash! Food is key to human survival — you literally have to eat at some point. If you’re gonna do it anyway and have the time, you might as well bring someone else along for the ride!
Food always lightens the mood. People love to eat and sharing a meal takes away the typical formality of the work setting. It’s much easier to engage someone over lunch than between meetings.
Eating with coworkers builds relationships.
While you’re out to eat, enjoy the food and the atmosphere. Don’t overthink it! You aren’t playing your role at work and neither is your coworker, so don’t give yourself that pressure. Ask a few questions and listen attentively. Make conversation that isn’t related to work. Just who is this person sitting with you?
Think of this as the foundation for building a more collaborative community. The relationships built while eating with coworkers will translate to a broader sense of camaraderie in the workplace.
It could help you build friendships.
If you’re intentional about getting to know your coworkers, this could even be the gateway to a new friendship. It’s good to have friends at work — they’re the people who will keep you going on days when you show up but aren’t really feeling it.
Everybody gets tired and experiences fatigue from work at some point. It’s during those times that your return on investment truly begins to show. At the absolute minimum, what you put in is what you get out.
Eating with coworkers creates momentum.
I go on walks with my coworkers almost every day, and it’s energizing. We might get coffee, bubble tea, or just walk for the sake of getting some fresh air.
I hear about the tools and scenarios other project teams are working with, providing a fun, less formal way to stay in the loop. But it also creates an opportunity for me to practice rubber ducking when I, or someone else, is trying to solve a problem on their project.
Of course, we don’t always talk about project-related things, but I’ve found that these engagements have helped me feel more comfortable being myself at work. In turn, that’s increased my confidence in asking questions, serving as a resource for others, and managing imposter syndrome.
These experiences with my coworkers make me want to further develop my craft.
You’re contributing to the culture.
As you begin to practice engaging with coworkers and building relationships, you’ll notice something special happening. Others will begin to do the same, and over time the morale of the workplace will shift positively.
More jokes get made, short conversations near the coffee machine happen more often, and more people start having lunch together. People will enjoy their time at work. They’ll begin to do better work. They’ll start to invest, and the company will undoubtedly flourish from it.
It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?
Food is a great tool for building software.