Why We Value Eating Lunch Together So Highly

Zee Asghar

An old-fashioned bell rings at 1p.m. every day here at HQ and we all make our way to the kitchen area to eat lunch together.

It may not sound like much, but when a team of three chefs are cooking lovely grub every day of the week for a hungry workforce, it’s not that surprising that Smarkets' staff will name the food as one of the best things about working here.

On the face of it, the setup is quite like a school canteen — two long tables and a serving station at the far end. However, as you approach the marble worktop you’ll see each part of today’s menu laid out and drawing you in. We all queue up and loathe anyone in front of us taking too long to decide whether they want one more roast potato (please take it, they’re just so fluffy!).

Take last week, for example. Over the five days we had grilled sirloin steaks with roasted sweet potato, turkey and ham pie, chilli hot dogs, lamb bhuna and burger Friday!

The main reason we provide free lunch — and breakfast by the way — is to encourage a friendly, collaborative culture. Since the dawn of time, humankind has often bonded best over a good meal and lunch is the main one of the day in many cultures.

Keeping staff well fed should be of great importance to any productive workplace, but unfortunately it’s not and we believe more companies should invest in kitchens to keep their staff happy.

And it’s not only those eating the food. Our chefs say that they love the freedom of creating their own menus and not having to do draining restaurant hours.

Staff also help out by volunteering to load and unload the dishwasher. It’s just a small gesture, but it means that the chefs can sit down and eat with everyone else and have a break themselves. The person washing up also gets to choose the lunch hour music .

Lunchtime cliques are naturally fazed out by having two long tables instead of lots of little ones and even company visitors, if here between 1–2, will sit among us for lunch.

Often we won’t talk about work, but the collaboration of staff across different teams every day will often result in useful brainwaves that would never happen if you went out or ate alone at your desk.

You will have seen it — the crazed office worker wolfing down a bland salad as quickly as humanly possible. This is exactly the kind of thing we don’t want to see at Smarkets. Having a break midway through the day is a good way to refresh, especially when you get to enjoy freshly cooked, healthy food and play Mario Kart afterwards.

 

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