How the working lunch can restore connectivity in a hybrid workplace
The future of the office remains uncertain, and the recent speculation around changes to the right to work away from the office only muddies the waters further. Regardless, many large businesses such as Amazon are already planning their return to an office-centric culture to enable collaboration. Google also revealed that 60% of its workforce would be in the office a few days a week, with only 20% of the workforce working remotely.
As these corporations make their return to the office, they’ll be granted the luxury of daily face to face interaction. Casually catching up over lunch is a welcomed thought after being deprived of real-life conversation for so long. But what about the small, startup businesses who aren’t making the move back full time? How will they cope in a hybrid world?
Recent research shows that whilst 16% of small businesses will continue working entirely remotely after restrictions ease, almost a quarter said they will adopt a hybrid model. It is then the role of employers to maintain a sense of community both at home and the office, and they have the opportunity to do this during lunch.
At Just Eat for Business, we recently surveyed a range of teams from 170 businesses across the UK and found that the companies, which included startups and large corporations, were happy to embrace this hybrid culture, but were searching for ways to help their team stay connected while remote, with many turning to food to bridge the gap, looking for food gift cards (55%), virtual parties (55%) and recipe boxes (52%) to boost morale.
These team building initiatives are needed when working from home to regain a sense of community at break times. Research shows that the concept of a social lunch has been distorted in lockdowns. UK employees are working an extra 20 hours per year by skipping or cutting short their lunch breaks and are losing an average of 8,320 minutes. The research also showed a clear gender divide - women typically skip more lunch breaks than men per month (11 days per month vs 10 days) and males are more likely to socialise with co-workers at lunch than women (21% vs 15%).
To maintain a sense of collaboration at home whilst navigating a hybrid workplace, we have recommended 5 ways to stay connected:
It has been an undoubtedly difficult year so by rewarding teams with deliveries of food gift cards or packages not only shows appreciation, it can provide an activity for all the team to participate in online. In lockdown, we pivoted to at home delivery with our ‘Pantry Packages’, sending teams their favourite treats directly to their homes and this trend hasn’t dropped off, even as we come out of lockdown, showing the at home reward is still valuable.
Celebrate the milestones
Key milestones in the calendar are prime opportunities to bring teams together - birthdays, Halloween, Christmas and sporting events provide the chance to socialise either online or in person. We’re already seeing companies celebrate the 'Summer of Sport' with our Euros and Wimbledon packages which allows teams to bond over the tennis with a glass or two of Pimms.
Allocate lunch times
When working in the office and at home, it can be difficult to align schedules. Often people nip out for lunch and quickly sit back down at their desk to eat, with many even skipping lunch entirely.
By allocating time, you are blocking out a strict no work policy, encouraging time to unwind and socialise either in person or on video call, tackling the problem of the desk lunch head on.
Encourage time away from the desk
Whilst not social interaction per se, it is vital that employers encourage workers to spend some time away from their desks in their lunch breaks. More than a third of workers said they worked better in the afternoon if they left the office at lunch for fresh air, showing the importance of breaks to maximise employee happiness and productivity.
A year of working from home has changed eating habits immensely and has in fact made way for a healthier lifestyle. Four in ten (42%) said their previous lunch choices were unhealthy but now, without the choice available for grab and go, more than one fifth of Brits say that they now enjoyed home cooked lunches. It’s important that employers look to provide this in the office catering to replicate the positives of the home lunch at home.
However the working model transpires, the working lunch will never be the same. For startups, it is about striking the balance between involving remote workers in social moments, encouraging them to take breaks and taking the positives that the new way of working has allowed.