There's something special about food in its power to bring people together—regardless of their age or background—to partake in a shared, time-honored tradition.
People intuitively understand the power of food as a tool for socialization and bonding. That's why so many CEOs, founders, and corporate leaders have made food and snack breaks an office staple.
In some countries, such as Sweden, eating and drinking together is an institutionalized and indeed mandatory part of one's work life. Swedish work culture revolves around fika breaks, a twice-daily pause for coffee and baked goods for all employees and upper management alike.
While having coffee and cake isn't yet obligatory in North American offices, it's nonetheless a tradition on the rise. In today's modern office environment, an increasing number of businesses are bringing shareable food into the workplace for everyone to enjoy together—together being the operative term.
Below, we've put together a compilation of offices and teams across North America that have prioritized food, snacking, and friendship in their office environment. Although a simple gesture, the impacts are often further reaching than you might think.
“Every month, I would make it a tradition to have at least one pizza night with my employees. I would request everyone stop their work at least an hour before the working day ends then would just father around the lounge area and eat pizza.
We would talk the remaining hour away and tell each other stories from our personal lives. I find this has made our bond as an organization stronger and closer.”
“When we started to order snacks in the office, employees had more time to talk about non-work related things, which increased the rapport of everyone. It's during this time where people can feel more relaxed and outgoing, allowing them to break free from the stress brought on by the daily loads of work.
When I noticed how people were able to bond through simple lunches, I took advantage of the situation to treat them and make them feel more comfortable in the office by ordering food for everyone. This is how I was able to build more genuine connections with everyone as I barely have time to sit with them due to the extensive tasks we have to accomplish.”
“Before becoming my own boss, I worked at a digital marketing agency and they tried to be creative with employees in a myriad of ways. My favorite was the Ferrero Rocher challenge, where we had a knockout competition to see who could eat the most in a minute.
It looked easy but, trust me, the taste soon gave way to tenacity. Everyone got involved, and even the quieter ones were right in the mix. It helped different teams come together as we would pit department against department, allowing people to step outside of their normal comfort zones.
Although it was preconceived, people didn't feel pressured to join in or have fun. They just did.”
“Our team has weekly team lunches together, either ordering in or eating out. During this time, we break down professional borders and discuss personal lives and stories.
We also take part in a game where we ask each other deep questions that spark engaging conversation. During these weekly luncheons, we bond over our answers and conversations, as well as get to know each other a little better.”
“We have a good mix of nationalities, culture and religions represented in our office and we decided to make food a part of that. Each month we celebrate an employee’s country of birth (or of their choosing) and they will bring in their favorite cultural or national dish.
This helps us appreciate both the background of everyone in the office as well as help us understand another culture. Who would have thought that by eating you can also learn. It has helped us form closer bonds between all our employees as some people find it hard to ask about peoples’ origins or country of birth for fear of saying the wrong thing. This monthly food tradition breaks down the barriers and encourages more natural conversations about these topics.”
“I first started bringing food into the office when I learned that not everyone had a family to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with—so, I brought Thanksgiving to them. I invited everyone to create their own dish, if they wanted, and the results were amazing. I was inspired and moved by what people cooked!
The level of community we reached in our office was unmatched and provided a nice foundation to build from. Food is such a bonding experience, and when you share food with each other, your appreciation for each other and their perspectives grow. This, I believe, leads to better workplaces and happier communities.”
“I was working as a tech support representative for Accenture where I and my colleagues worked at one office, and food was a big part of how I integrated myself into the team. I'm an introvert, so I generally keep to myself 90% of the time but one time, I had this conversation with my colleague over our love for food.
She then gave me her recipes for lasagna and barbecued pork belly. From there, the conversion blossomed into a full-blown friendship. Since then, we took the same schedules, sat together, and helped each other out with our deliverables. We've also ventured into the food business and supported what each other was selling.”
“The summer of 2018 was particularly hot out in the San Fernando Valley where our office is based, and everyone was over the heatwave. Our team needed an extra boost to get excited and charged up. One of our team members suggested we host a Summer Snacks Friday in the office, and it was an immediate hit with the team.
What was so wonderful about Summer Snack Fridays was that it was so much more than eating and enjoying a tasty snack. It was the camaraderie between each pod that is so memorable. The thing about our team is that food has always brought us together, whether it's doughnuts to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day or dinner out during the holidays.
But Summer Snack Fridays stands out because it captured who we are when we work with our teams to reach a smaller goal, like making a delicious snack. It was our team at its most natural, loose, and gave us a chance to simply be ourselves."
With Ritual for teams , you can breathe new life into your office environment with fresh food from local restaurants and cafes. In doing so, you can forge new workplace traditions and find fun ways to bring your team together.
Sure, this doesn't necessarily have to be a pizza party, an annual Thanksgiving dinner, or a Ferrearo Rocher eating contest like we've seen in the cases above. It can be as simple as Monday afternoon tea and biscuits, or a Wednesday morning lattes and macaroons. The beautiful thing is that you can get creative, and find your own unique food rituals to bring to the office.
What's there to wait for?