How to Do a Working Lunch Right
Is your team on a hard deadline — and time is running out? Or maybe you’re just starting a new project and you want to come up with some innovative ideas. In both cases, organizing a working lunch can be the perfect way to create a more informal setting for your employees to collaborate and brainstorm.
Of course, there’s more to a successful working lunch than simply ordering bagels and handing them to your team at their desks. What you want to do is harness your employees’ productivity and creativity while at the same time, energizing them. Keep the following tips in mind:
- Make it special. Not everyone will be enthusiastic about giving up their lunch break to keep working, so it’s advisable to offer something that’s a bit more special than sandwiches or donuts. Either reserve a large table at a quiet restaurant nearby or have a nice, catered lunch brought to a meeting room at the office. Make sure to ask everyone up front about their preferences and any allergies. If at all possible, order the food in advance. This will give everyone plenty of time to peruse the menu; plus, it will save time.
- Provide an agenda. Especially in an informal situation, it’s easy for everyone to get off track and talk about anything but the work at hand. To prevent this, create an agenda and stick to it. It’s also a good idea to send it to everyone ahead of time so they can prepare their input.
- Keep the first 30 minutes or so informal. According to Meg Selig in her Psychology Today article “How Do Work Breaks Help Your Brain? 5 Surprising Answers,” taking breaks replenishes your mental energy, increases engagement and makes you more productive. By scheduling a break so everyone can enjoy their lunch before you get into the actual work, you’ll allow your team to recharge, which in turn might yield better results.
- Go for a walk. If your working lunch is about brainstorming, it can be a good idea to go for a walk in the park or some other quiet area together after eating. This will help you avoid the post-lunch energy slump. In addition, studies show that activity — especially walking outside — can help creativity and flow of ideas.
- Have someone take notes. To make sure you capture all of the good work and novel ideas you and your team come up with during the lunch, ask one of the team members to take notes. That way, you’ll be able to refer to the notes at any point if necessary.
With these pointers in mind, you stand a good chance of making your working lunch a successful and productive one — and that will ultimately have a positive impact on your project.