Wanna Grab Lunch?
Joel Spolsky» recently wrote up some of his thoughts about lunching with coworkers.
Where and with whom we eat lunch is a much bigger deal than most people care to admit. Obviously, psychologists will tell us, obviously it goes back to childhood, and especially school, particularly Junior High, where who you eat with is of monumental importance. Being in any clique, even if it’s just the nerds, is vastly preferable than eating alone. For loners and geeks, finding people to eat with in the cafeteria at school can be a huge source of stress.
The importance of eating together with your co-workers is not negotiable, to me. It’s too important to be left to chance. That’s why we eat together at long tables, not a bunch of little round tables. That’s why when new people start work at the company, they’re not allowed to sit off by themselves in a corner. When we have visitors, they eat together with everyone else.
I’m right with Spolsky on this one. Lately, my work queue has been so long I’ve resorted to eating in front of my computer while continuing to meditate on the problem du jour. Doing so’s affected my work friendships, attenuating them to the point I’m spending nearly no time with them outside of work. To be honest, I don’t think there’s much to be done about it for now. It’s a work rhythm thing, and I count myself among the lucky that I enjoy my work enough not to resent the immersion.
Thinking to a couple months back about how office work lunch cliques worked out, I noted there was a clear demarcation about who ate with whom. I’m a tech and when I started I ate with the other Techs. The PMs» are few in number and they tended to eat in pairs or singly, but that changed when two PMs and I began regularly lunching together. We’d go get tacos from the truck or sit in the sushi boat. Good times. Over the course of months, the group grew to include people from IT», Tech, and Marketing. Though people from sales and client services didn’t eat lunch with us», we all occasionally did (and do) meet up after work.
I can’t speak to the cohesiveness of the company as a result of eating or not eating together, but I do have a vague sense of the way social bonds are reflected in people’s lunch habits. In other words, for lack of data my “study” is inconclusive.
Maybe it’s really just an example of what happens in college cafeterias.