Workplace Commensality: Yet another cause to work from office

ABC Innovations is a mid-sized IT company with its headquarters in Mumbai. It had offices spread across all Indian metros and onsite locations in the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East. ABC Innovations also followed a five-day work-from-office week.

But the scenario changed upside down in the year 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns prevented employees from visiting their offices. Hence, ABC Innovations, like all other organizations, transitioned into a completely remote work setup. At first, working from home seemed like a dream come true for many. No long commutes, no crowded office spaces, and no rigid schedules.

However, as time passed, something began to change. The once close-knit team started to feel a disconnect. The camaraderie that had once flourished in the office began to wither away. The water cooler chats, the impromptu brainstorming sessions, and the shared lunches were now distant memories.

One day, the CEO of ABC Innovations, Sarah, decided it was time for a change. She believed that the company’s success was not just about productivity but also about the human connections that fueled innovation. So, she announced a return to hybrid work, encouraging employees to spend at least a few days a week in the office.

The news was met with mixed reactions. Some employees were excited about the prospect of seeing their colleagues again, while others were hesitant, having grown accustomed to their newfound freedom.

As the first day of the hybrid work model approached, Sarah decided to organize a special event to welcome everyone back to the office. She called it the “Great ABC Lunch.”

On the chosen day, the office buzzed with anticipation. Tables were set up in the spacious cafeteria, adorned with colorful tablecloths and fresh flowers. The aroma of delicious food filled the air as employees brought in dishes from their respective homes to share.

The “Great ABC Lunch” turned out to be a huge success. Employees gathered around the tables, serving themselves and engaging in conversations they had missed dearly. Laughter echoed through the cafeteria as colleagues caught up on each other’s lives, shared stories, and even discussed work in a more relaxed and informal manner.

As the weeks went by, the return to the office became a regular part of the ABC Innovations routine. The hybrid model allowed employees to enjoy the best of both worlds – the flexibility of remote work and the valuable social interactions of the office.

Teamwork flourished once again, and creative ideas flowed freely. The spark of innovation that had been missing during remote work returned with a vengeance. Projects that had been stuck in limbo suddenly gained momentum as people collaborated more effectively in person.

ABC Innovations prospered like never before, and it was clear that the return to hybrid work had rejuvenated the company. Sarah’s vision of workplace commensality rekindled the spirit of camaraderie and innovation among the employees.

The story of ABC Innovations serves as a reminder that while remote work offers flexibility and convenience, there is a unique magic that happens when people come together, share meals, and interact in person. It’s a reminder that sometimes, the best solutions emerge when we combine the best of both worlds, embracing the power of human connection and the efficiency of modern technology.

Workplace commensality – Building better teams

Workplace commensality is the practice of eating together in the workplace. It is a social activity that can help to build camaraderie and teamwork among employees.

In a research article by Kevin M. Kniffin, Brian Wansink, Carol M. Devine, and Jeffery Sobal, the relationship between the practice of eating together in the workplace and the performance of firefighters was studied. The authors conducted a field study in firehouses in a large city in the United States. They interviewed firefighters and observed their behavior during mealtimes.

The authors found that firefighters who ate together more often had better communication and teamwork skills. They were also more likely to trust each other and to feel like they were part of a team. These factors were associated with better job performance, as measured by ratings from supervisors and self-reported measures of job satisfaction. Thus workplace commensality can be a valuable tool for improving the performance of firefighters.

There are many benefits to workplace commensality:

  • Help to build trust and camaraderie among employees
  • It can also improve communication and teamwork skills
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Improve productivity
  • Boost morale

Thus eating together can be more than just a social activity; it can also have a positive impact on job performance. This is an important finding for businesses of all sizes, as it suggests that there are benefits to creating a more communal work environment.

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