Food can be a great source of bonding and camaraderie at the office. No matter where you work or what your job is, everyone has to eat—and eating as a group is not only more fun, but it can also boost productivity and morale.
Even if your office isn’t packed with foodies, food can be a great foundation for enhancing your company’s culture. So whether you’re heading up your own team or your office is just in need of a little more fun, here are a few food-centered ideas to get you started.
1. Organize an Ice Cream Social
A weekly ice cream social is a sweet way to get everyone together and reward your team members for their hard work. Wednesdays are a great day to do this—a fun event to look forward to on Hump Day can boost even the weariest of mid-week spirits. You can have everyone bring their favorite flavor and a topping, and then have fun mixing and matching. Worried about a giant sugar rush? Try having a yogurt sundae bar instead.
2. Dine Out
Getting out of the office is a great way to re-charge in the middle of the day, so pick one day of the week for the entire team to go to a local restaurant for lunch. Everyone can take turns choosing where to go, which will keep things fresh and also allow employees to share some of their favorite foodie haunts. Or, add an extra kick to the decision-making process: Put a bunch of restaurant names in a hat and let fate decide where your group will dine that day.
3. Follow a Food Truck
No time for a full-fledged sit-down meal? Try a quick jaunt to the nearest food truck. It’ll give everyone just the bite-sized portion of fresh air, exercise, and camaraderie they need to break up the day. You could also choose a favorite truck and make it your mission to find it once a week. Since food trucks are always rotating both their locations and their menus, organizing a regular posse of food truck “groupies” is a fun way to keep your team on its toes. You can use Twitter to track your truck—and to show your love by tweeting about your gastronomical adventures.
4. Go on a Farmer’s Market Field Trip
If you’re lucky enough to have a farmer’s market near your office, consider organizing a little field trip. It’s a good way for everyone to get some fresh air, exercise, and sunshine—and everyone will be thrilled to be able to get a little grocery shopping done in the middle of the day. Plus, chatting with your co-workers—as well as local vendors—is a great way to do some impromptu networking.
5. Have a Potluck
Potlucks are an especially fun way to get people together because everyone has to get involved. Collaborating on a meal is a bit like collaborating on a presentation for a big client—except for that it’s far less stressful and way more fun.
Try organizing your potluck around a theme (think egg-based dishes for Easter or Asian fusion) to get people’s creative juices flowing, or make it a cook-off to add some lighthearted competition (e.g., who can make the best pasta salad?).
6. Order Lunch
If you’re managing a team, consider having lunch or dinner delivered to the office during a stressful crunch time. Although it will be tempting to let everyone eat at their desks while they work, make sure your team members pull themselves away from their computers and sit down together to eat as a team (no checking Blackberries, either!).
While the food alone will provide the necessary fuel for meeting deadlines, the break from work will help everyone be happier and more productive when they sit back down at their desks.
7. Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen or Organize a Food Drive
Finally, if you can get your team out of the office for a few hours, why not organize a volunteer day at a soup kitchen or collect canned goods for a food pantry? Volunteering as a group is a great way to build team spirit, and helping those who are less fortunate will make the whole team grateful for what they have.
Want to work with a team that loves food? Check out one of these companies where eating together is just part of the job.