18th February 2016

Why eating together is important (and delicious)

3 min. read

At Hello Monday we strive to create work that tickles the senses of people online (and hopefully offline). This is no easy task. It’s not enough to have a team full of wildly creative individuals and committed clients — there are specific activities we practice to cultivate our unique brand of crazy. One of those is eating lunch together every day. While some Scandinavian companies do this, it’s a novelty in the US that goes beyond the “unlimited snacks” that some companies offer.

Meaningful interaction

It’s a tired trope that “millennials” demand a different working environment out of some sense of entitlement. If you’ve ever mashed a sandwich into your face while typing on your keyboard, you know that the status quo is unpleasant at best and unsustainable at worst. (Side note: if you get tired of lazy writing that uses “millennials”, try out the millennial →snake people Chrome extension. It makes the web a lot more fun.)

Some of the lunches and snacks; check out more on Instagram #youhadmeathellomonday. Photo by Morten Sølvstrøm.

The Cultural Coordinators

While it’s true that it’s nice to have lunch together, it is also a key moment to get up from our desks and recharge our batteries. The data on the need for this type of balance in office life exists in droves.

The research is clear: beyond ~40–50 hours per week, the marginal returns from additional work decrease rapidly and quickly become negative. — “Work Hard, Live Well”, Dustin Moskovitz
Each office has a Culture Coordinator (sometimes affectionately called the “studio heart” or “office mama”) who manages a lot of the day-to-day office tasks, plans social activities, and prepares lunch. Far from just short-order cooks, these talented folks include a certified yoga instructor and photographer, an art history buff with a successful baking blog, and a mother of two with a background in visual communication.

Everyone sits at the dining table together, and phones are put down. This forces everyone to make eye contact, talk about work, and talk about something other than work. Being able to disagree in a friendly way about a non-loaded topic like our favorite new Netflix series offers a valuable chance to learn how to communicate within projects and across a 6-hour time difference between offices. By coming to understand one another, we continue to care and understand our colleagues. Also, it’s really great to have a home-cooked meal, especially with many of our employees living away from home.

Culture isn’t a series of random perks that are to be enjoyed in addition to a crushing workload — it’s the blood in the heart of a business. But it’s not just a warm-and-fuzzy concept: studies are backing up that good culture is good business. A commitment to well-being, development, and culture doesn’t stop at free coffee, but it could start at the lunch table.

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We creates joyful digital ideas, products, brand identities and experiences that connect the hearts of brands to the hearts of their audiences.