It's well known that many start ups offer their teams a free lunch. Often delivered to the office in a brown paper bag with goodies inside. We have regularly indulged in “Pizza Friday” and bacon sandwiches have been an Alliants tradition since we founded in 2009.
We started to feel guilty that we weren’t looking after the health of the team and noticed that with a growing pile of Pizza boxes, a feeling of guilt and responsibility crept up on us… Are we doing the best for these guys? With people in the office increasingly aware of the benefits of healthy eating, I decided back in December to treat the team to a home cooked Chilli instead of a cheese and pepperoni filled pizza pie. The reaction to a home cooked meal provided in our breakout area was brilliant! Everyone came together and took time out of their day to eat together as a “family”. As a result this has become a weekly ritual, I take time out of my week to cook a homemade lunch for the team from Chilli to Spanish stew, curries and Chinese food. What we have noticed, is that rather than people going back to their desks with their lunch (something which is in fact strictly vetoed at Alliants) or bringing their laptops, smart phones or carrying on working , we all take time out of our day to come together and chat about the weekend ahead and the week just passed, an opportunity for us to talk to one another and get to know each other a little better.
So, can free food make for a better working environment? Free food is great but for us, its the coming together of the team over something home cooked that makes this “culture hack” even more effective.
(We are putting together a cookbook of some of the favorite recipes that we have had so far and can make this available to anyone who might be tempted!)
If you are planning on coming in for a meeting, make it a Friday and you might end up with Breakfast lunch and then a beer at the end of the day if you are lucky!