It’s well known that meetings can stifle an engineer’s workflow, and while we can share company-wide news through newsletters and Slack channels, we’ve found that the best way to improve the “glue” is to let it happen organically over lunch. For example, an engineer might overhear our operations team complaining about a particular contract and connect the dots to a recent feature push that may have been the root cause. Every day, when our catered lunch arrives, everyone stops working to eat lunch with members of their own team and connect with people from other departments. This is the time for spontaneous collaboration and cross-pollination. Some companies underestimate the value of having everyone eat lunch with their peers. We don’t.
Lunch time is casual for us, but it’s also an important part of our day. Friends frequently drop by and we talk about everything from bitcoin, VR, and gaming to what we’re doing on our off days (okay, sometimes those overlap). We’ll often go grab lunch together from somewhere near our Mission/SOMA office, or everyone will bring their own lunch. (We do this when we try to be healthy.)
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We provide lunch 3 days per week and commonly take trips out together when we don’t (particularly if it involves a visit to the local Blue Bottle Cafe). On any given day, our communal kitchen table sports homemade pie (particularly popular on 3/14), lemons from a backyard tree, or treats brought back from exotic trips. The generous spirit that fuels our product development also fuels our stomachs.
We always want to find time to take a break, step away from what we’re focusing in, and touch base with one another. Sometimes it’s about work, and sometimes it’s not. Either way, it’s important to us on principle that teams enjoy the time they spend with their peers and make it a priority to catch up over food. We’re currently moving to a bigger office space, but we like to leave the office, get a scene change, and buy lunch somewhere each day.
First, our office culture (see below!) encourages a high proportion of quiet, focused work time, so lunchtime provides a compensating opportunity for social bonding and the informal, osmotic diffusion of knowledge and ideas. We embrace this break in the middle of the day as a valuable part of the way our business works. Our primary motivation for providing lunch in the office has nothing to do with time efficiency. In fact, we are experimenting with ways to layer more supported social interaction into our culture. (One experiment we're running is a cultural event series, where small groups attend outside events such as plays and concerts together.)
Second, we consciously make an effort not to sit by team. Engineers, recruiters, salespeople, and other customer-facing staff all mix at our lunch tables every day. This leads to more diverse conversations as well as a team that is more attuned to the needs of customers and the company.
Lastly, every Friday, we have “Show and Tell”, an all-hands meeting that overlaps with the second half of Pacific Time lunch. Scheduling our all-hands at lunchtime allows a larger proportion of people to attend, compared to an all-hands held at the end of the day, when parents are often running for the exits. (Of course, the presentations are also recorded, for anyone who isn’t available during that time.)
At Show and Tell, anyone, regardless of seniority, is encouraged to sign up (in an Airtable base shared company-wide, of course) to present anything worth sharing with a broader audience. We often kick off the meeting with a brief slide of pet photos (Airtable <3 animals) and then launch into short presentations. The content varies widely, but often includes demos of features-in-progress, reports of customer conversations, and more formal company-wide announcements. Show and Tell is a crucial and ever-evolving part of our culture, and we wouldn't be the same company without it.
The MetroTech Commons is right outside our building and is surrounded by eateries which are almost all on MealPal. Team members will usually find a table and congregate there to talk about anything from the latest Laravel LTS version to how they feel about the new iPhoneX.
We also have regularly scheduled lunch events called Lunch and Learns where someone in the company will present insights from their department or teach a skill they are a master of. Some notable topics are playing guitar, SQL, closing deals, and video editing.
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Our cross-team and cross-functional collaboration happen naturally as we all like to have lunch together every day. Our free, catered-in lunch is just an added perk of sitting down with a colleague and enjoying a meal together. Don't you end up eating with the same people who you normally hang out with anyways, you might ask? Not at Checkr! We have a built-in opportunity to join an optional group lunch every Friday with randomly selected people throughout the company, so you get to know and stay connected with each other better.
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Our Paris team eats lunch together every single day. Instead of getting catered food like you might be accustomed to in the U.S., our engineers and team have their meals sponsored by Algolia. This means that every day in Slack, you’ll get a message like the one below saying where everyone’s headed for lunch. Use your food vouchers and get on the lunch train!
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We're always surprised to hear that some teams don’t eat together, because to us it just makes sense! We're a small team that genuinely enjoys working together, so we value lunchtime as a chance to hang out, take a break, and get to know each other as more than just coworkers. (We get lunch catered every day from Forkable, which lets you order from a menu in advance.)
We love having guests join us to have lunch, take in the amazing views of downtown San Francisco from our office, and sample our eclectic and ever-changing collection of 20+ hot sauces, amassed from all of our international travels and a serious need for heat. Come by and meet us some time! We’ll feed you.
While we’re still too small for catering, we did start paying for lunch at the end of 2018. As a team, we like to mix it up between getting food delivered or going out to places like Rooster & Rice, Native Co, Sweetgreen, and Super Duper Burger together.
On Fridays we do Sparkwap Study Sessions during (or usually right after) lunch, which is a presentation/talk from someone on the team about a core technology. We usually talk about bigger picture and longer term issues during lunch, but more than anything, it’s the best time to enjoy one another’s company. We like to do things like contests to see if a coffeephile can really tell the difference between a pour-over and french press (spoiler alert: Danny can’t).
Lunch is a sacred time for us to relax, unwind, connect, and play. At lunch, you can find us debating the latest technologies, showing one another pictures from recent trips, and playing ping-pong. A warning for your waistline: at lunch we love to celebrate the birthdays and anniversaries of our illustrious team members, so be prepared to eat a lot of cake! Fear not, though, because we’re also committed to our physical health. We have a dedicated group of team members who plank for a minute every two hours during the workday to keep up our energy levels (our Slack channel is called #workhardplankhard –– all are welcome). We are very spirited ping-pong players. Yoga is also offered every other week.
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We value company culture and what better way to bring people together than over some amazing food? Stationed right in the heart of Gastown, Vancouver, there are plenty of outstanding places to eat. Our legendary BBB (beer, bourbon, bacon) team outing is a magical place filled with dreams and tasty treats! You’ll have to join us to get the full experience. From company-wide Quiplash to Family Feud, lunchtime can sometimes be filled with entertaining group games. We work hard but we also play hard and we’re proud of it. We work hard but we also play hard and we’re proud of it. This keeps us fresh and ready to take on new challenges alongside people we enjoy spending time with.
Thursday’s lunches are sponsored by Thread, and each group has a designated leader that gets to pick the place! We also have catered lunch brought in to the office 3 days/week (and yes, we accommodate all dietary needs and restrictions!). We encourage everyone to take time away from their work to eat lunch together. It’s good for “Enjoying the Journey Together” (one of our values!) and also encourages serendipitous discussions. Every other week, we have a Lunch & Learn where someone gets to teach the team about a hobby, interest, or passion project. Some recent examples include Crit racing and barbecuing the perfect brisket.
Our team values collaboration and time together as a whole, which is why we have huge picnic tables in the center of our office! It's a chance to socialize with other team members and spend some time away from your desk. You can find yourself having a casual chat with someone on another team about favorite restaurants or a thoughtful debate about a public issue -- either way you’ll enjoy the company of others and a get breather from your work duties. We have catered lunch 2x a week, plus special catered breakfast here and there. We also have a fully stocked kitchen with drinks and snacks.
Lunch is the time of the day where we can relax and talk about non-work related things. We have a private office in a co-working space, so there is always life around us. At least once a month there is an event in the co-working space that some people from our team participate in.
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Agile Product Development Consultancy
San Francisco, Santa Monica, Chattanooga, New York
Our offices in San Francisco, Santa Monica, Chattanooga, and New York City all have big farmhouse tables that we congregate at for lunch. (Though in Chattanooga, people tend to go out for lunch together instead.) We have a tradition on Wednesday where each week, one person presents a lunch talk at each office. It doesn’t have to be about technology, and it can be off the cuff. Talk about an interesting article you read earlier in the week and open it up for discussion, or bring in clay and teach everyone pottery! We do it alphabetically and when it’s your turn, you can talk about whatever you want. Are you already thinking about what you’d present?
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