You've completed your morning tasks, wrapped up your last morning call, and closed your laptop for the time being: time to go to lunch! Whether you're working for a small or large company, the odds are some of your coworkers will be taking a lunch break at the same time as you.
We all have our own lunch break routines and preferences, some of us prefer eating alone and disconnecting from the office altogether, while others may really enjoy having lunch with team members.
This begs the question: should you have lunch with coworkers? Are there benefits to eating together or spending lunch together?
In some instances, there are benefits to eating with colleagues: spending lunch breaks with team members may lead to higher levels of recovery from morning tasks and facilitate disconnect from work-related tasks, ultimately boosting productivity. In addition, having lunch with colleagues fosters informal exchanges, which can be great sources of creativity and cross-department cohesion in large companies.
5 reasons why having lunch with co-workers is beneficial
Having lunch with co-workers may lead employees to recover better, create friendships, build new meaningful networks, and even constitute a source of creativity.
We detail each of these potential benefits in the sections below.
1. You'll recover better
Eating lunch with team members helps employees recover better and boosts productivity. The sense of community, belonging and freedom of expression people feel around other individuals is a key lunch break recovery factor.
Research shows that those who socially interact with co-workers at lunch time report feeling more recovered after their break. They were thus more engaged and productive after lunchtime. For more details about this recovery topic, read our article about optimal conditions for a workplace lunch break.
That being said, connecting with coworkers during lunch isn't a recovery experience necessarily fitting all individuals. For instance, if you've been interacting with team members all morning in brainstorming sessions, calls, and meetings, you taking some "me-time" would be totally understandable and perhaps a better option for you.
2. Opportunity to network
Lunch breaks are a great way to build networks. Of course, this point may be especially compelling for extroverts who enjoy networking and meeting new people regularly, any time of the day. Networking within a company can also lead to increased group cohesion across departments.
Networking during lunch can be especially easy and fruitful in large companies with cafeterias. Imagine being able to chat with workers from the marketing, communication, sales, and HR departments!
In addition to simply helping build and strengthen cross-department relationships, networking during lunch may foster cross-department cohesion and collaboration, even if lunch talks are not business-focused.
3. Fosters creativity
Informal conversations during lunch breaks can constitute great sources of idea blends and creativity, even involuntary! When you put your mind to rest and disconnect from the tasks you've been focusing on all morning, this actually leaves more space for new ideas to emerge.
This process can be accelerated through informal conversations with coworkers who talk about department projects which have nothing to do with yours.
Perhaps the communication and PR department is currently using an approach which you'd never thought could be applied to your marketing strategy! In sum, having lunch with co-workers could be a great opportunity to share, absorb and create new ideas, foster creativity, and perhaps even innovation.
4. Creates friendships
In some cases, your team members are simply more relaxed during lunch. This doesn't only hold for your team members, but perhaps also for your boss and other company executives. A relaxed environment leaves more space for small talk and non-work-related discussions: a great opportunity to learn more about your colleagues' daily lives, personal projects, travels, and family stories.
These moments are as intimate as you might get with most team members (unless you're engaging in forms of workplace romance) and are a great way to get to know them better and perhaps forge stronger relationships and create friendships!
5. Encourages you to disconnect
Many of us can probably relate to this: it's sometimes hard to just stop working and take the break we deserve, even after a productive morning. Having lunch with team members encourages you to take that break and recover better than having a sandwich in front of your screen and not really disconnecting.
The fact is, your body and mind will need to rest at some point during the day, and having lunch in front of your laptop or while working on your feet on a regular basis is just not a way to be productive in the long run.
Even if you're an introvert and not a huge fan of being around people during lunch or during the day in general, you might discover the benefits of really taking a break. You need at least half an hour to completely disconnect from work-related tasks and projects! In sum, if a team member invites you to have lunch together, give it a try, it might turn out better than you think, especially in the long run!
More activities you can engage in with coworkers during your lunch
Lunch breaks are not limited to sitting around a table and sharing a meal. Having lunch with co-workers can also mean grabbing a healthy sandwich and heading off for a run, a workout, or a nice game of Padel with your team members for example!
While sports activities with colleagues may reinforce collaboration, they are also great informal moments to joke around and blow some steam off together.
It might be difficult to fit a whole game of monopoly into your lunch break. In addition, this might not make your boss very happy. However, there are many other small games you can play with colleagues to blow some steam off and simply disconnect from work-related thoughts.
A simple game of cards, a Jenga tower or even a game of ping-pong (if you're lucky enough to have a table in your office) are great ways to conclude your break and recover from a productive morning.
Is it okay not to have lunch with coworkers?
Absolutely. We all have our own ways of spending lunch breaks and recovering. Some workers simply recover better when eating alone while reading a book, taking a walk with a sandwich or even using the lunch break to work out. If you're a big fan of "me-time" and simply need to disconnect from crowds during your lunch, that's absolutely normal!
Should colleagues go to lunch together every day?
Absolutely not! This depends on you and your coworkers. While in some cases, lunch breaks are a time of the day your team members look forward to, others prefer to balance things out and have lunch with colleagues on certain days of the week, and time for themselves on other days.