Eating together as a team

It’s Mental Health Awareness week this week, and while we take the time to consider all the things we can do to support ourselves with health and wellbeing, our workplaces are sometimes where that support starts. There’s a lot going on at Just R that is in place to create a workspace that supports the wellbeing of our colleagues.

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Fridays at Just R are for good food eaten in good company.

Each Friday, we pick a local eatery to order delicious food that supports our local vendors and our hungry bellies. We are treated by our Founder, Rachael, as a means to bring us all together to chat, catch up and celebrate another successful week.

Not only do we eat together on Fridays, but we encourage walking meetings, going out for coffees, connecting with our colleagues, and many of our team eat lunch together every day in our comfy communal area. Plus, part of our onboarding process is to encourage new starters to go for a one-on-one coffee chat with each team member in order to get to know each other on a more personal basis.

Eating together on a Friday is a communal, sociable act and gets everybody together to chat about life, work and their weekend ahead. Research has shown that employees who enjoy a communal lunch together tend to be more productive and have higher morale, and it encourages them to notice the value of taking a break. Not only can employees relax and take time away from their desks, it is also beneficial to bring co-workers closer together and the social aspect is a huge bonus for our mental health.

Here’s some tips on how to encourage eating together in the workplace:

1. Invest in providing a free meal each week for your employees

Research shows that employers see a return from investment in providing food for employees. Morale is improved as well as collaboration and teamwork where employees feel valued and will bond over communal eating! Companies as a whole benefit from communal meals, and would benefit from looking at meals as an investment in employee performance. Google for example, provides three meals per day to staff, as well as 24-hour snack availability.

2. Build eating together into the onboarding process

Encourage new starters to arrange one-on-one ‘getting to know you’ meetings with as many members of the team as possible, and if you can, provide vouchers for them to spend in local coffee shops or cafes where they can go and chat freely over coffee and treats!

3. Encourage employees to take walking meetings

Not all meetings need to take place at a desk! Employees should be encouraged to take a walk, grab a coffee, and go over tasks in fresh air. It means that employees are active, enjoying each other’s company outside of the office and conversing over tea and cake.

4. Have a nice area for communal eating

Having a pleasant, communal seating area where employees can sit together and eat away from their desks encourages mindful eating, while bonding as a team and treating each other more like friends than simply co-workers. This in turn encourages collaboration and teamwork. Collaboration guru Tammy Erickson notes huge benefits of enhanced collaboration – including shared meals and other forms of employee engagement – which contribute to productivity and wellness.

5. Encourage employees to provide skillshares as a team and bring cakes, snacks, drinks – being wary of team dietary requirements

Skillshares are a really positive way for employees to share their experience with others, while snacking on home baked goods. This not only encourages your staff to share valuable skills and insights across the team, but eating together in this way makes it feel like a celebration too!

Good Sister

Romano Pizza

If you encourage colleagues and employees to eat together, you can expect to see a rise in productivity, collaboration, teamwork and morale. It’s important that workers remember there is value in taking a break, in getting to know their colleagues and spending time socialising instead of being bogged down in work 8 hours per day, every day. 

Just R are champions in creating spaces where employee wellbeing is nurtured and supported. There are many other things we do alongside eating together, including book club and running club that you can read about here.

My favourite spots to eat in Carlisle: 

  • All vendors at the Carlisle Market Hall are so delicious and affordable with the friendliest service! There’s so much to choose between Thai, Greek, Chinese and Pizza, plus a brilliant green grocer for some fresh fruit and veg.
  • Good Sister is a lovely cafe serving some healthier options and a great vegetarian selection… balanced the goodness with the (in my opinion) world’s best chocolate orange brownie!
  • Whytes who are right next door to us provide amazing salads and delicious coffees served with a smile.
  • Henry’s does perfectly cooked jacket potatoes with an array of toppings, served with a lovely side salad and coleslaw.
  • La Baguette Bar for those days when you need a big french baguette filled with delicious fillings.
  • Espresso Hub is a hot spot for us at Just R, just around the corner offering great coffees and our CEO Rachael’s favourite coffee spot.
  • Alexandros Greek Restaurant serves great Gyros, both veggie and meat, with the tastiest Baklava I’ve had in the UK!

Written by Sophie, food lover and advocate of all the ways that eating together can benefit our mental health in the workplace.

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