10 tips on how to build office culture with food

# jobsatisfaction# networking# officeculture# startups

If you are working in an open office space, or even just a downtown apartment packed with folks and computers, sometimes find yourself eating lunch at your desk, or running down to the local McDonalds to fetch some food. Is it good? It is certainly time savvy, but I wonder if it gives you the same satisfaction as a meal together.

Nowadays companies tend to spend HUF 200.000-800.000 average on yearly team building exercises, while neglecting one of the most effective team building tool: food! When was the last time you had a meal together with your co-workers?

Office meals boost morale, enhance job satisfaction, and can have a positive impact on health and ambient of the workplace. One of the most important outcomes of office meals, however, is an enhanced sense of teamwork, then certainly strengthen bonds. I am aknown to be a big fan of office meals (free or seed funded) and I enjoy feeding colleagues just as much as friends or family. In Silicon Valley, CA they knew the big secret before anyone else and were already one step ahead – offering free food at their funfair style diner, equipped with slides and ball pools (yyaaay)!

At Prezi, one of the fastest growing Hungarian start-up, folks have free meals together every day, and yes, it does sound fabulous still. Here are some of the ideals you can establish at work:

1. For larger workforce, we can choose from a wide range of free food sharing applications, like Olio, or Meal Sharing where you can set an occasion, a price and your colleagues can sign up online. I would suggest operating only on buying price basis to keep it cool.

2. Talk to your boss about regulating office lunches. I am sure she/he’ll welcome the idea of low cost team building unless he/she isn’t in which case I alerted you!

3. Bring an extra meal if you made more than you can eat. In this way, you can avoid food waist and make someone very happy. Always notify people if the food contains any allergens (nuts, eggs, wheat, soybean, etc) to stay on the safe side and not to poison anyone, you know!

4. Celebrate! Special occasions, like birthdays, milestones, anniversaries provide an opportunity to snack. You don’t have to have a large kitchen (or even a kitchen as a matter of fact) to prepare and share some veggie sticks or doughnut.

5. Research and ask questions about food! You’ll find how well people respond. Topics like favourite food, what anyone has for lunch will help you to plan the next meal together. Knowing your boss doesn’t like tomatoes and bacon (he’s a nice guy, I swear) can pay off when deciding not to make English breakfast at the team building trip. True that!

6. If someone is busy, bring them lunch too. At some places it is point 0, to ask people around whether they want something from the local bakery/salad bar/sandwich place when stepping out for food. Once you get into the habit, you’ll find people will pay attention to your needs as well.

7. Use snacks as a reward! Not too often, but occasionally, couple of ice-creams appearing will lift the mood and people up from their chairs.

8. Set an example with your food. The way you eat, the values you stand by can be shared and discussed around the office. Do you live a healthy life? Have you gone sugar free? Do you eat fruits five times a day? Good for you! Make people interested and show a different perspective.

9. Prepare breakfast for clients too. Just like the way you are most likely to bond with your co-workers over pizza, your clients will enjoy spending time together too. If you are unsure of your cooking skills, just grab few muffins (the good kind) and make sure coffee is good.

10. And last but not at least: always be considerate! Giving away food shouldn’t mean interrupting people. They key to office food sharing is keeping it low key and low tone. If the circumstances are not ideal, just grab a sandwich together and go for a walk.

Author: Zsuzsa Gulyas