Gathering as a team over lunch catering is counter to the way most American employees spend their lunch break – or, more often than not, their lack-of-any break. There are tons of articles – joking and not-so-humorous – that advise on the best ways to work during lunch. Survey after survey shows that employees are worried that, if they do take a break for lunch, they’ll be perceived as lazy or uninspired. So how can you be productive during lunch amidst all of this?

The truth of the matter is, you can’t be productive during lunch. There, we said it. Attempting to work through lunch leads to lower energy levels, less creativity, and more stress. The work-through-lunch, eat-at-your-desk mentality is a broken way to think of your mid-day break.

The solution? 

Lunch catering.

Lunch catering boosts… productivity!

We know how it sounds. Taking time off of work makes people work better? And honestly, there isn’t much more we can say than: yep

(Ok, there’s actually a lot more we can say. Here goes.)

ONE – Time flies when you’re at work

Taking a break from work is actually proven to boost concentration and energy levels. We aren’t talking about taking a break from your email by checking Facebook. The best thing you can do for your body and brain is to disengage from the computer and your desk, and allow your brain to recuperate. It doesn’t even have to be a long break! Even 15-20 minutes can make a huge difference. 

And, while you can go on a walk or do something else – rather than connecting over work – the face-to-face engagement you get during a lunch break (as compared to a walk) also makes a huge difference for productivity. Conversations take you out of your current headspace and get your brain firing in new ways. 

Basically, a lunch break gives your brain time to refresh and rejuvenate. As a result, 90% of employees report feeling ready to go after a sit-down lunch. Employers have noticed the difference too – and report that lunch catering leads to harder working employees and better ideas. 

TWO – A lunchbreak is worth a thousand words

With the recuperative benefits of a lunch break in their back pocket, your employees are empowered to return to work revving and ready to go. Not only will they be energized, but they’re more likely to be creative as a result.

(And creativity isn’t just necessary for artistic jobs – every job has a creative aspect! From project management to problem-solving, thinking about things in a new light is key for nearly every job.)

This isn’t only because they’re looking at their work with new eyes (though taking a break and coming back to your work is great for creativity). When you let your mind relax from “difficult” tasks, you’re able to rest and re-tackle the problem.

THREE – A lunch break a day keeps the stress at bay

On any given day, the majority of your office is stressed at work. In fact, 60% of respondents in a CNBC survey reported feeling stressed 3 or more workdays per week. Deadlines, team dynamics, deliverables, quotas… these all play in to workplace stress and, in a lot of cases, there isn’t much you can do to beat them. But even though every employee may be forced to work through lunch every now and again, you can minimize stress at work with (you guessed it) lunch catering. 

When you offer lunch catering, you’re communicating to your employees that yes, work is hard and it’s a priority, but we also want you to take a break. Providing a time and space for them to detach from their work, especially when you can make it a visible company norm, decreases stress and increases mental health

Lunch catering not only gives your employees a place to unwind and disconnect; it shows them that you value their well being. As a result, employees are more able to show up and perform – and will feel better doing so.

FOUR – It takes two to tango

In the same way that workplace stress will always exist, workplace drama and tension will always exist as well. Whether there’s a disagreement between two members of your team or frustration between two teams in your department, people will naturally fight, make up, get along, disagree again… it’s the circle of work

But sharing a meal together can actually decrease strife and boost teamwork, much like WD-40 on a rusty lock. Employees who connect over food are more likely to understand each other on a personal level, rather than just a professional one. Even better, when employees eat the same food, they feel an unconscious kinship, a “this person is like me” connection that makes them more likely to work together in the future, whether they realize it or not. 

That’s why Chewse offers family-style lunch catering. A study done by University of Chicago professor Ayelet Fishbach showed that, when employees shared the same type of food, they were significantly more likely to come to an agreement quickly. The study asked two strangers to negotiate, but they had to eat a snack first. When the strangers ate different snacks, it took them 7.3 rounds to settle their negotiation. When they shared food, it only took 3.6 rounds.

Lunch catering also boosts… office morale!

Ok, so your people will be more productive – but the benefits of lunch catering don’t just stop there. Not only will personal mental health improve if your employees take the time to take a break, but you’re also improving office morale as a whole with lunch catering. How? 

Right now, only 32% of employees feel engaged in their workplaces. The Millennial habit of moving from one job to another in a few years has been well documented – but they mostly do so because they’re looking for companies that value them and give them purpose. We’re working more than we ever have before, so work isn’t just “work” anymore. In fact, 70% of young employees want work to be more of a “second family” than anything else, and people who do find that sense of camaraderie at work are “seven times as likely to be engaged in their jobs.” 

When you give your employees a chance to get to know each other, and make work feel like a community rather than just a 9-5, they’re more likely to be more engaged, more proactive, and happier. Office morale soars, and as a result, people want to stay. That is to say: 

Lunch catering boosts… retention!

When you show appreciation for your employees – not just with verbal praise, but through tangible benefits and actions like lunch catering and other perks – you’re putting your money where you say your values are. These practices and benefits lead to higher buy-in, and higher retention rates as well. 

That’s because lunchtime breaks encourage employees to get to know people outside of their teams. Social networks are more like spider webs than org charts, and employees are empowered to make these networks when they connect over a meal. These cross-team friendships, then, make employees more likely to stay at their company. In fact, 74% of women and 58% of men would stay at a lower-paying job with stronger connections and camaraderie.

So basically… lunch catering = win-win-win

Yes, we’re an office catering company, so it may seem like our perspective is a touch biased. But we’re also a culture and community company – we’re working to make sure everyone has a seat at the table. Engaging with your coworkers is the best way to create a healthy office culture and fight workplace loneliness – which is higher than ever. In fact, in 2018, 46% of Americans reported “sometimes or always feeling alone” at work. 

That’s because, whether you’re in Los Angeles or Chicago, face-to-face interaction is key to feeling connected to your coworkers and your office. And while new messaging systems like Slack and Gmail have made office communication easier than ever, office connection is sorely lacking.

The best way to connect is over a meal, since lunchtime conversations encourage prolonged face-to-face conversations and true engagement. Whether your team talks about their work or something personal, the ability to share face-to-face, rather than through technology, creates authentic connection.

Want to learn more about the benefits of office catering? Download our eBook!