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The Importance of Lunch

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the food-for-thought dept.

Businesses 475

theodp writes "I've been on teams that eat together every day,' writes Joel-on-Software Spolsky, 'and it's awesome. I've been on teams that don't, and lunch every day is, at best, lonely.' Spolsky is firmly in the camp that believes where and with whom we eat lunch is a much bigger deal than most people care to admit. 'There's a lot of stuff that's accidental about Fog Creek and Stack Exchange,' he concludes, 'but lunch is not one of them. Ten years ago Michael and I set out with the rather ambitious goal of making a great place to work. Eating together is a critical part of what it means to be human and what it means to have a humane workplace, and that's been a part of our values from day one.'"

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Lunchbreaks (5, Insightful)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#35975904)

Personally... I'd rather spend that hour working and leave an hour earlier.

Generally I'm at work to make money and not to make friends. I know every company does the rah-rah, we're awesome, "team-building", let's all be friends so we work better together. But I'd rather just be professional, get my work done, and spend my free time how I see fit.

Re:Lunchbreaks (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35975946)

Teambuilding is fine when the rest of your team aren't cunts.

When they are...well, let me put it this way. If I "had" to eat lunch with my direct co-worker here every day, I'd either put a bullet in his head or my own. It is bad enough that I have to work with a moron, the last thing I want to do is be sociable with a moron.

We work together fine (which really means I handle that which is my responsibility, and he handles that which is his responsibility)...but a team we be not.

Re:Lunchbreaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976002)

Teambuilding is fine when the rest of your team aren't cunts.

When they are...well, let me put it this way. If I "had" to eat lunch with my direct co-worker here every day, I'd either put a bullet in his head or my own. It is bad enough that I have to work with a moron, the last thing I want to do is be sociable with a moron.

We work together fine (which really means I handle that which is my responsibility, and he handles that which is his responsibility)...but a team we be not.

I thought you loved me Jimmy

Re:Lunchbreaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976178)

Your wife doesn't even love you John. She did love me last night though.

Re:Lunchbreaks (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976462)

You do realize you're talking to yourself right? There's no one else here.

Re:Lunchbreaks (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35975958)

Basically this. I do take a short lunch so I can leave but what lunch time I do take, I like to have it quietly alone away from work and coworkers.

The point of the company trying to make everyone 'best buddies' is so they don't have a problem with working on time that should have been theirs. I don't want to spend any more time than I have to at work.

Re:Lunchbreaks (5, Insightful)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976044)

but what lunch time I do take, I like to have it quietly alone away from work and coworkers.

Same here I've always enjoyed the solitude of a snack and a paper for my lunches, it never ceases to infuriate me when you become obligated to take part in company lunches/doughnut parties/etc, etc. I've had jobs seriously impacted by my lack of a desire to attend christmas parties or company birthday parties for people I don't even know.

It's funny how you can be expected to put forth all this excitement, commitment and seeming loyalty towards companies that would just as soon lay you off if it was amiable for them.

Re:Lunchbreaks (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976090)

It's funny how you can be expected to put forth all this excitement, commitment and seeming loyalty towards companies that would just as soon lay you off if it was amiable for them.

Very much this.

Re:Lunchbreaks (2)

gknoy (899301) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976434)

My impression of Fog Freek software was that they tried really hard to find good people, and then KEEP them. So, they're a little different from most companies, in that while I'm sure Joel would fire people if he felt it necessary, he's picky enough about who he takes (and opinionated enough about the importance (and difficulty) of hiring Awesome People) that I doubt many things would lead to someone being fired or laid off there. It's probably cheaper for him to keep someone until they get more business than have to spend money hiring a replacement in six months.

With that perspective, it makes sense that they'd try hard to foster employee loyalty, as they already try to treat employees well. (Or, that's what his blog claims. I've never worked there. :))

Re:Lunchbreaks (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976264)

I'm not big on the social aspect, but I really, really like food. That sort of makes the decision easy for me when it comes to taking part in those sort of things...

Re:Lunchbreaks (5, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35975966)

You make it sound like your work is a reality tv show ("I'm not here to make friends, I'm here to win.")

If you don't think good personal relationships will make for a better team, then I'm glad you don't work with me.

Re:Lunchbreaks (5, Insightful)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976008)

You can maintain good relationships with coworkers without having to go to happy hours and play lazer tag and drive go-karts with them.

And, without being forced to basically make lunch into a meeting.

Exactly. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976174)

Basically, the assumption is that they because you work at the same place, in similar jobs, you're going to have similar non-work interests.

Sorry, I don't.

So either the lunch meetings are extensions of weekly meetings where work topics are re-hashed or there is a lot of awkward silence.

Of course it is ALWAYS nice when you have a nice, homogenous group with the same political / religious / etc beliefs and feel free to discuss them at lunch. Everyone always agrees.

Re:Lunchbreaks (2)

MikeDirnt69 (1105185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976226)

I made good friends that still hang out with me at most companies I worked. I don't REALLY care if that can boost our work or not, but I'm pretty sure it's good for friendships.

Re:Lunchbreaks (3, Insightful)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976438)

And those good friends could become a good job lead the next time you need one. While I can't stand when a company decides to bring in Team Building experts who's job it is to humiliate and belittle you by making you act like a 5 year old to make you feel like part of the team I do think healthy interaction with your coworkers makes working more enjoyable long term. Most of the replies I've read so far seem very angry. Maybe it's because they don't have any friends to have lunch with.

Re:Lunchbreaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35975992)

Exactly. Is the lunch paid? No? Forget it, employers get enough shit they don't pay for, they constantly want more, and when you bend over backwards for them they just don't trust you. So no, we aren't friends at all.

Lunchbreaks not optional in many states (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976024)

Personally... I'd rather spend that hour working and leave an hour earlier.

Your state laws may not allow that option. Even if its your idea and you *really* want to do so your employer can get into a lot of trouble. In some states the presumption is that you are being coerced by the employer (or fellow employees) and no statement made by you will change that presumption. Don't get annoyed with your employer if they say you must take a meal break away from your desk.

Re:Lunchbreaks not optional in many states (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976470)

And that is why the state should stay the FFFF out of our lives. Stupid laws shouldn't be obeyed, and I will go home when I feel like it.

Re:Lunchbreaks (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976058)

Personally... I'd rather spend that hour working and leave an hour earlier.

Generally I'm at work to make money and not to make friends. I know every company does the rah-rah, we're awesome, "team-building", let's all be friends so we work better together. But I'd rather just be professional, get my work done, and spend my free time how I see fit.

Yeah...I'm largely the same way, but it is a tough choice. I've been on teams where we'd usually have one day a week where most of us would go eat together somewhere. I'm in New Orleans,and well....food is a major thing down here, and so many good places to do. Trouble is..lunch here is always a 1.5-2 hour deal. Working contracting, you keep a close eye on hours. I mostly like to bring my lunch (I cook a lot on Sundays for breakfasts, lunches and some dinners for the whole work week, so I can have time for gym, etc too). I usually eat at my desk and work through lunch so that I'm here 8 hour period.

Latest team...no one goes out together...and I must admit I do miss some of the meals out, as that it IS nice to eat with co-workers and makes for a nicer place to work because it gets a bit more personal that way.

But I only like to do this if it is NOT fast food. If I'm gonna eat out, I want somewhere I sit down and get waited on...but again, living in NOLA, that is not a problem, good places outnumber the fast food joints here.

It does bring up one thing I've noticed on work group meals, and it seems to be the difference between men and women.

In general, a group of 5-15+ guys eat out together, the check comes (most places in NOLA will not do separate checks), we get the bill, add on 20% for tip, and split it evenly between everyone there.

If there are women in the group...geez, the calculators come out, and they try to figure what everyone had to the penny, and usually the tip is short....

Does anyone else find this to be the case?

Re:Lunchbreaks (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976330)

If there are women in the group...geez, the calculators come out, and they try to figure what everyone had to the penny, and usually the tip is short....

Does anyone else find this to be the case?

I can only speak from what my mom has told me but here goes

Generally, women eat less than men and drink less than as well. She's had some real skivers on her team that would order a big ribeye steak and cognac while she orders a salad and fruit juice. Then when the check arrives, knowing damn well its a 30/70 split, they want to go half. In essence, she feels she is being forced to subsidize her colleague's food.
 
And that is when the calculator comes out

Re:Lunchbreaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976364)

They don't split the check for you? I can't think of a place that I've gone where they haven't just split the check for us when we asked. Makes it lots easier for us, if a little harder for the wait staff.

Re:Lunchbreaks (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976068)

>>>I'm at work to make money and not to make friends.

And besides - you can do the "let's be friends" stuff ON WORK TIME rather than personal time. Like when you're in the lab at 3pm, and telling jokes/stories with coworkers.

Personal time is exactly that - Time for me - to catch up on other stuff like the latest Asimov's Science Fiction magazine, or reading my email, or checking slashdot

Re:Lunchbreaks (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976078)

Actually in many (all?) states in the US it's illegal to work full time hours and not take a lunch. My wife is the sort who would rather skip lunch and has had several managers get worked up about it.

Re:Lunchbreaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976096)

I don't have a problem with being friendly with the coworkers, but I don't want to eat lunch with them. Aside from going home earlier, the day just flows better for me if I keep working. Taking a lunch break (especially when they're an hour long) is a huge interruption to my day, and when I get back to work I've often lost a lot of drive to keep going.

Might be a little different in an office environment, if I could walk in to the break/lunch area, pull out my sandwich and visit briefly while I eat, then leave 10 minutes later. But I'm usually out and about, and the coworkers want to go to a sit-down restaurant somewhere. That also makes lunch a lot more expensive...

Re:Lunchbreaks (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976184)

That doesn't bother me as much as his insinuation (and then he made it explicit) that those who eat alone do so because they are loners, like in junior high, who have trouble making friends. Hello, some people just like to eat alone. Other people can be annoying sometimes.

Re:Lunchbreaks (5, Funny)

Dr.Bob,DC (2076168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976188)

You really should eat a lunch. Not for the social networking as the article states, but for your health.

Take some time, eat an organic banana and unsalted, organic almonds. Perhaps some curried tofu made from organic, non-GMO soybeans. There has been a few articles in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine in which Chiropractors have found that patients who routinely skip lunch have many more (and more serious) subluxations which cause poor health.

Subluxations are, to be blunt, where all a person's ill health will start. Eliminate those and enjoy good health!

Take care!

Re:Lunchbreaks (2)

XanC (644172) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976286)

The official Journal of Quackery recommends tofu and "organic" almonds! Huzzah! I'm pretty sure all the almonds I've ever eaten have been organic, since I don't recall eating a silicon-based one.

So the root of all human suffering is sublaxations, huh. Here I thought it was unicorn farts. Can you check my thetan levels while you're at it?

Re:Lunchbreaks (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976304)

"Chiropractors have found in every disease that is supposed to be contagious, a cause in the spine. In the spinal column we will find a subluxation that corresponds to every type of disease. If we had one hundred cases of small-pox, I can prove to you where, in one, you will find a subluxation and you will find the same conditions in the other ninety-nine. I adjust one and return his functions to normal... . There is no contagious disease... . There is no infection... . There is a cause internal to man that makes of his body in a certain spot, more or less a breeding ground [for microbes]. It is a place where they can multiply, propagate, and then because they become so many they are classed as a cause." -- B.J. Palmer, The Philosophy of Chiropractic, V. Davenport, IA: Palmer School of Chiropractic; 1909[7]

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertebral_subluxation#History [wikipedia.org]

uh huh.

Re:Lunchbreaks (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976354)

I bring my lunch and eat it at my desk whilst Slashdotting.

Re:Lunchbreaks (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976368)

There has been a few articles in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine

No doubt.

Re:Lunchbreaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976394)

I guess Dr. Clark is dead now, are you applying for her old job?

Re:Lunchbreaks (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976432)

Me, and the blessed spirit that accompanies me in my daily life-quest agree.

During lunch I first center myself, grounding through the root of my feet. I wrap my self in a raw-silk, (un-dyed) kimono and apply a 7th degree healing crystal to all critical Chi-points. Next, I crawl under my desk where I have sculpted a feng-shi-compliant existence space in a pyramidal form to cleanse toxins. Obviously, this space is aligned, true-west, symbolizing the historical Journey of Flamorta, the Restful One. Next, I usually get my chiropractor and aroma-therapist on conference call so we can all do some group throat singing along with the Pocahontas sound track. I emerge from my lunch cleansed and pure, ready to endure another four hours of my mocking co-workers and their mis-aligned chakras.

Sincerely,

Flowing-tree-river, dutiful servant of the blessed provider. (a.k.a. John Frakle)

Re:Lunchbreaks (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976236)

That attitude/behavior causes half of your day to be a required but not desired activity. Personally I'd prefer to desire or at least not mind going to work.

Further such an attitude hinders your productivity (unless you are both customer, CEO, and sole employee). Perhaps you don't care since you just want to get paid. Though I can't help but wonder if people with that kind of attitude might not be first on the list for layoffs and low on priority for raises.

Re:Lunchbreaks (4, Informative)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976380)

might not be first on the list for layoffs and low on priority for raises.

Yup. It shouldn't matter... but it does. When the money runs short... it's a lot easier to let bill, who while not rude, is not exactly friendly go than to let tom, who we were just laughing with at lunch, go. Ted is also at the forefront of your mind when some opportunity comes up as well.

I guess it really depends on office culture. Where I work, we don't really go out to lunch as a massive team... but most people do kind of have a small group they "hang out with". These little groups in some cases are the team... in other cases spread across teams and departments... and it's not set in stone or official or anything, it just kind of happens that way. People with similar interests kind of "find each other" and you see the same groups going out for coffee breaks and so forth.

Also, shop talk is generally rare. It happens.. but way short of an unpaid meeting.

On a personal level, I'd say the whole "I'm here to work, not make friends" attitude has always seemed kind of weird to me. You spend a good chunk of your life at work.. why not make it more fun. I'm not saying you have to hang out with coworkers every weekend .. but mixing personal and work life a little bit has made the day go a lot nicer for me.

Re:Lunchbreaks (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976390)

I don't mind coming to work. I have great professional relationships with the people around me.

There is no hindrance to my work. Further, the time that would otherwise be lost to bland socialization can be spent honing skills or actually producing things.

Agreed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976272)

I'm with you on this. I used to never take lunch breaks. I would have something small, some fruit or whatever, at my desk while I worked.

The company changed its tune though and now requires mandatory lunch breaks and they will dock my pay for it (I'm hourly). So now instead of working through lunch so I can either leave early on a light day or get more done on a busy day, I slip out and disappear for at least an hour for lunch. I go home and eat, park my car at the park and eat there, whatever I find relaxing. The executives disappear for 1-3 hours around lunch time, so my modest hour and change is no big deal as far as I'm concerned. I just follow their example where applicable.

Regardless. I'd much rather go back to working through lunch and having a shorter day in the office when I can.

Re:Lunchbreaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976350)

And that's why the rest of the office thinks you're the company asshole.

Re:Lunchbreaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976412)

I agree. I usually work through my lunch, and while I can't always leave earlier, it does allow me to get more done than my chubbier colleagues.

Re:Lunchbreaks (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976418)

Indeed. On the days that I do eat lunch, I just end up feeling lethargic for the rest of the afternoon. It's a hassle to plan a lunch and an expense to buy a lunch. So I just forget about it and have a cup of coffee.

No thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35975908)

I eat lunch at home. I feel its a great break from everything and everyone.

Eat lunch together daily (3, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35975928)

I once spoke to a CEO of a successful startup in Texas. He attributed a large part of their success to the fact that the team ate lunch together every day. They sold the company to a larger company for big bucks, success by some measure at least.

Yay! Anecdotes! (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976092)

That's AWESOME!

And if he had attributed the success to keeping a picture of a porcupine on his desk, would it be as relevant?

The key point is that he sold the company to a larger company.
He did not buy the larger company.

It all comes down to how you define "success".

Re:Yay! Anecdotes! (2)

winkydink (650484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976238)

If he attributed the success to a picture of a porcupine he kept on his desk, chances are he wouldn't be CEO of anything more than Padded Room, Ltd.

Re:Eat lunch together daily (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976200)

The most fun I had with two companies that the developemnet ate lunch together at least 3 days a week. It was not forced, and generally the managers paided. On was at WDW in Orlando and the other was with a small company in Concord, CA.

These places was were I also learned the correct size of development team: The number that can fit into one car to go to lunch. Any more than that then there is two teams (or more) and different directions the development model went. The reason was the conversation was broken who traveled with whom.

Whoops (1)

awtbfb (586638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35975932)

I got crumbs on my keyboard...

eating lunch together is all very well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35975938)

But what if the reason they don't eat together is that they don't want to? Is it a symptom?

That said, it's often not something that just happens, but once you make it happen it keeps going, so I generally support his thesis.

Old hat (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35975942)

I've known this for ages. This is why, at the beginning of each day, I make any employees who felt the need to brown-bag it toss their lunch in The Trough. Once in the trough it's blended in with a caffeinated protein slurry.

Now, we can't have the workers getting all uppity because I allow them to eat, so this trough is installed roughly level with the floor, so they have to bow at my feet while they nourish themselves.

It's a wonderful place for me to work.

Regards,
Mark Z.

Re:Old hat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976274)

Someone mod this up! Just shat my pants.

What about (1)

_merlin (160982) | more than 3 years ago | (#35975952)

I don't think team lunches should be mandatory. Sometimes you want to clear your head, go for a walk and have some time to yourself. You may also want to check out cute girls in the food court, but I digress. Anyway, just because Joel likes his lunches that way doesn't mean it's the best thing for everyone. Where I work, they provide lunch for those who want it. Some people eat lunch in the rec room, chat, maybe play a game of table tennis or pool. Others take the supplied lunch to their desk to eat. Some people prefer to go out and buy lunch, but even they're a mixed bunch: go alone, go in groups, eat out, bring take-away back to their desks. You've got to give your people some space to move.

Extrovert (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35975954)

Again with people forcing extrovert-ism on the world. Why can't people *in general* be accepting of introverts who like to, and gain their energy from, being alone? I find it is an excellent time to put my thoughts together and come up with new ideas while away from my desk.

Re:Extrovert (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976050)

Because teams just don't work when you have a bunch of anti-social losers in it? Sorry, but your self-diagnosed aspergers doesn't excuse you from being a twat.

Re:Extrovert (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976116)

Hi there Pot, please allow me to introduce you to Kettle.

Re:Extrovert (1)

HazMathew (207212) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976196)

Aw sounds like someone needs their binky or were you trying to be funny with your anti-social comments?

Re:Extrovert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976232)

Because teams just don't work when you have a bunch of faggots in them who think their ideas are the end all be all and who don't listen or give two seconds of thought to any contradictory ones.

Fixed that for you!

The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to Tech Startups (5, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 3 years ago | (#35975978)

The history of every major tech startup tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases.

For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question "How can we make payroll?", the second by the question "Why do we need VC?", and the third by the question "Where shall we have lunch?"

It should be the goal of every startup company to reach the third stage.

I'd eat lunch with all my esteemed colleagues (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35975982)

but there's no room at my desk.

Aaah, who am I kidding? There's plenty of room at my desk for all none of my team-mates.

Teamwork. We've heard of it.

Slashvertising, Anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35975990)

I've been at companies that believed in paying ad firms for marketing campaigns. But I'd rather write some not terribly insightful stuff, and then a whole crap ton about how expensive my new NY digs are. And I'll write it from the perspective of someone who has never had a great idea in his life, but sure knows how to repackage conventional wisdom without putting too many buzzwords in. And you know /. will run my crap because everyone's sick of Apple and Google. Being a bloviating schmuck has been part of my values from day one.

On those 'lonely' lunch hours (1)

milbournosphere (1273186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35975998)

I've found that the time I take for lunch has been great for rejuvenating my reading habit. I picked up a kindle on the cheap, and it has been a boon to my reading time. I can take up the whole lunch hour sitting outside on the grass eating my lunch and turning pages, virtual or real. Yeah, group lunches are awesome, but sometimes it's nice to just kick back and let your imagination wander.

workers vs owners (4, Insightful)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976016)

If you want to make a "great place to work" in the sense that those you work with are more than resources to exploit, build a cooperative, partnership or mutual.

If you want to throw bones to your more easily won over employees, safe in the knowledge that you can fire them whenever necessary, pontificate on the importance of eating lunch with them.

Disgusting (0)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976020)

The tone of TFA is abhorrent. "Ooh, he must be so unhappy because he has something worthwhile to do instead of talking to me. I know I'd shrivel up and die if I couldn't get an ego boost from my comrades."

Re:Disgusting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976134)

agreed, I think if I had work with that on a daily basis I would seriously consider a lawsuit.

Re:Disgusting (1)

Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976146)

agreed, I think if I had work with that on a daily basis I would seriously consider a lawsuit.

I'd consider the use of high explosives.

Re:Disgusting (1)

greg1104 (461138) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976388)

I'd consider the use of high explosives.

I've found the explosives that aren't doing drugs are more reliable.

Spoken like a true extrovert (5, Insightful)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976022)

"I’ve been on teams that eat together every day, and it’s awesome."
"...but you’ll also see a distressing number of loners eating by themselves..."
" Maybe they’re reading a book or checking their email while they eat so they don’t look sad."
"Maybe they genuinely don’t like people and they’re happy to eat alone. Or maybe they’re just telling you that."

This is something I see a lot in workplaces: Extroverted people just not understanding the mind of introverted people. Honestly I'm surprised a person with experience in the tech field (I assume) is falling into this trap.

Not everyone enjoys being around and talking to other people all day long. Maybe it's because they're shy, maybe it's because they don't like their co-workers, maybe it's because they have some kind of disorder, or maybe it's just their natural personality. I gotta be honest, there's no way I'd last at that place, because if my boss/coworkers were on my case every day to come eat with them, I'd be miserable. It's fine if the group wants to go out/gather once in a while, but not every day. Most days I just want to go have an hour where I can be left to myself and not have to talk to anyone else. Wonder how many otherwise good employees he's run off with this policy?

Re:Spoken like a true extrovert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976234)

Plus, he does not offer any info on what his "eat together" policy is doing to to raise productivity or to team-building, etc. Article sounds almost like he has made it a mandatory policy because he just thinks it's better - no proof, not even anecdotal or non-scientific, offered. Amazing.

What's next everyone has to ride the bus to work together, because the CEO "likes" it?

Re:Spoken like a true extrovert (1)

Zapotek (1032314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976252)

Completely agree and I wish that I had mod points. It's one thing to go grab a bite with a couple of co-workers once in a while but a completely different thing to sit you down on a big table with some food in front of you.
The first situation is lunch-time, the second one is feeding time.

Re:Spoken like a true extrovert (2)

HazMathew (207212) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976254)

I agree. Why is it such a bad thing to enjoy a bit of peace and solitude during the day? Excuse me for not giving a shit about your weekend plans, office gossip, or who sounded the best on American Idol last night.

Re:Spoken like a true extrovert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976308)

In my job, I'm constantly on the phone with users, so when I get to have some time where I'm not talking to people, I cherish it. Also, if I have a long day, I don't really want to be around people. I'd rather work in the garage or go on a run by myself.

Re:Spoken like a true extrovert (2)

adenied (120700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976428)

I'm an extrovert (I generally recharge by hanging out with people) and I find myself making excuses from time to time for not going to lunch with groups of people. I deal with so many people in person for work related stuff even I need some quiet time sometimes. Usually not to recharge but to just get some of my own stuff done. Sometimes eating at my desk and reading the interwebs for an hour is just what I need.

Re:Spoken like a true extrovert (4, Insightful)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976430)

Indeed. I don't like taking lunch because it means I have to stay here longer, but when I do take lunch, I don't want to have to bullshit and listen to idiotic stories from people who have nothing insightful, interesting or, often, even truthful to say. I don't care about their latest trip to Florida, or what new restaurant they discovered, or what the weather is like. And that's just from "normal" people. I also don't want to hear about your WoW character, or your latest raid, or what armor set you collected. FFS, I just want to read Slashdot in peace.

Okay (1)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976026)

So you exclude good coders and great team players just because they don't like your favorite sandwich place. Okay.

Greetings, I'm an introvert (1)

Jaeph (710098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976028)

Hello, myself and roughly 25% of the population are introverts. We can find group activities draining, and would prefer to pick our social activities with that in mind.

-jeff

Re:Greetings, I'm an introvert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976132)

Hello, myself and roughly 25% of the population are introverts. We can find group activities draining, and would prefer to pick our social activities with that in mind.

That's great. Since you don't do face to face communication, we'll just be outsourcing your job to Bangalore.

Re:Greetings, I'm an introvert (4, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976186)

There are introverted ways to enjoy a group lunch. Eating, listening, and perhaps occasionally participating in a discussion when it's relevant. A group lunch isn't a cocktail party, and just being at the table reminds people you are part of the team and keeps you informed on what other people are doing, having trouble with, etc. The information that gets revealed there can give you opportunities to be more helpful and needed in the team - which will contribute both to your own success and that of the group.

I am in introvert who has learned the importance of lunch, among other things. Introversion doesn't need to become solipsism or self-absorption.

You've just described communication failure. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976342)

A group lunch isn't a cocktail party, and just being at the table reminds people you are part of the team and keeps you informed on what other people are doing, having trouble with, etc.

No. That means that your primary channel of communication if broken.

So you're attempting to compensate by using a secondary or tertiary communication channel to exchange work-related information.

Or just save everyone's time and bring donuts to the daily / weekly meetings and PRETEND that you're at lunch. It's easier. It's already scheduled. And you still get your personal alone time at lunch.

working lunch vs team lunch off site / in brake ro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976046)

working lunch vs team lunch off site / in brake room?

I think meeting lunches are not the same as a off work team lunch.

What if.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976060)

What if the people you work for/with are lazy, indifference slobs that place 'easy' above all other criteria every time their given a choice? Discussing anything is pointless; just imagine the cheesiest conceivable cop-out you can and do that, because that is the preferred solution. The only time discussion is necessary is when something has to be retrofitted into the mess; the ever going collection of shit is often difficult to understand so you have to sit on someone's knee for a time and listen to the explanation/excuses to accomplish anything. I don't enjoy that for some reason so I'd rather not have my lunches filled with it.

Is lunch hour paid time? (5, Insightful)

PvtVoid (1252388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976082)

Is lunch with the team counted as on the clock? If not, the boss has no right to tell anybody with whom they should or should not eat.

Re:Is lunch hour paid time? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976162)

Have lunch with the boss. Trust me, it'll be paid time.

Ooh, CAPTCHA == coupons, double-plus good day to be me.

Re:Is lunch hour paid time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976446)

Just provide a nice lunchroom with a small kitchen and team lunch will happen by itself.

Time Is An Illusion (2)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976120)

Lunchtime doubly so. Therefore anyone you have lunch with is merely a figment of your imagination.

I'm glad I don't work for this asshole. (0)

Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976122)

I suspect that since nobody would sit with him in the school cafeteria, he's compensating by "encouraging" his employees to live out his fantasy of being included at lunch with him.

Re:I'm glad I don't work for this asshole. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976302)

I am on the fence about this one. Recently I started going home to eat (as I live close enough). Work suffered.

People I used to go out to eat lunch with from 15 years ago still good buddies with them. The new ones I tolerate....

Don't talk about work... (4, Insightful)

turgid (580780) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976136)

Where I work, a bunch of us sit together for lunch, from my team and people who used to be on the team but went to work on other things.

Talking about work is banned. Lunch is a time to crack jokes, talk about hobbies, outside interest and to put the world to rights.

Taking a complete break from work for half to one hour is very good for concentration and problem-solving. It's amazing how frequently seemingly difficult problems become easily solvable after a proper lunch break.

Some people are fine with half an hour, but I need at least an hour and some strong coffee afterwards. For the last 20-30 minutes, I read the news and have a good laugh at the ranting on slashdot.

Those social bonds formed at lunch time are important. It's easier to go and speak to those people about work matters later and get their advice when you're friendly with them and you know how their minds work.

And it's just nice to have a few friends in the place.

Only Office Environments (2)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976140)

I worked at KMART for a time when I was freshly graduated from school (BS Computer Science) and was unable to find any work.

3rd shift ate lunch together every night, but we were all still working at KMART.

Although this idea is more geared towards office/professional work just wanted to throw that experience out there.

Lunch is YOUR time. I Get In Shape (1)

joemite (653654) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976176)

If it is mandatory to eat lunch with your teammates, then fine. But then it is not a required work break. Most places, unless you are salaried, by law you are required to take a break from work. i.e. it is your time and work cannot dictate what you do during this time. (As long as you come back on time and are still sober :) ) I've used my lunch hour as an opportunity to hit the gym 1-3 times a week. Nothing too intense. But I've been doing this for about a year now and it's amazing how much it has made a difference in my mood especially in the winter. An introvert myself, it also allows me to not have to talk to anyone for a while.

Lunch is important in some countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976216)

Some of my ex-mates at the university team did some research (not related to this issue) in the USA during a year or so. One of them talked about what the article treats. Here in Spain it is a cultural thing, we like having lunch and dinner together. We don't "have a party with our friends", we go out to have dinner, we have dinner at some friend's house with the rest of our friends. And then we may go out to a club, bar, dance, or just spend sometime before we go back home.
In a labour day, If we have to have lunch at midday, we always have it with other co-workers, and give it quite importance. You can always find good and cheap restaurants in the industrial areas of any city. And workers go together to them.
In contrast, it seems that in the usa, you happen to eat worse. By worse I mean that you eat whatever you end up not feeling hungry (our meals at lunch time are heavier, yours are at breakfast), On average, We have two different dishes plus a salad and dessert for lunch. And also, you happen to eat alone.
  My ex-mate in USA found extremely difficult to stop a while, eat a sandwich in the same room or building where he was working and resume his work after lunch. He tried to find somebody who have lunch with with little success. Only at the end of his period, his american co-researchers started to realize how important was for him to have a real colective time off for lunch together.

Do you get paid for that hour? (1)

mallyone (541741) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976230)

Lunch is a break, time to get away from the hustle and bustle of work. When at work, you get 100% of me during work hours, the rest is legally mine (at least in my mind :)).

From the looks of Joel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976256)

From the looks of Joel Sposky

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/JoelInSeoul2008-thumbnail.jpg

He can do with SKIPPING LUNCH every now and then

I thought this jackass was giving up on his blog? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976276)

I thought we had heard the last of this bore on March 17th, no?

Great in theory... (1)

MetricT (128876) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976280)

I have lunch with a few co-workers twice a week, and regularly get guilty stares the other three days.

One, I'm paying off student loans and a home mortgage on a 15 year. Right now my sources of entertainment include whatever I can find at Goodwill and the used book store. I simply don't have the free cash to eat out 5 days a week, no matter how much it helps morale.

Two, after graduating I went back into super-disciplined mode, hit the gym, ate properly, and lost 40 pounds. I have no desire to go backwards just for the sake of camaraderie. I like you, but all our cafeteria serves is burgers, brats, and pizza, and I like not having a heart attack at 50 a lot more.

Three, no offense, I like you guys, but after 40 hours a week, I need a little break from you all. I like getting a sandwich, walking to the park, and just chilling the F out. That helps my productivity a lot more than any group lunch does.

Lunch Smunch (2)

shellster_dude (1261444) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976288)

I normally pack a lunch and scarf it down while I keep working at my desk. I'd much rather get done that much earlier in the day.

Having said that, I do often take lunches with coworkers, but only when it's convenient, and I actually like them.

My team has an interesting alternative to lunch, which is far more constructive in my mind. Around 2pm, any of us in the group can call for a "yo" break if we need it. Then we all go stand around and shoot the breeze for 15-30 minutes outside the building. This allows us to socialize, blow off some steam, and get our minds focused again. It is well worth the company time because by around 2pm, you are already need a break to clear the cobwebs.

Motivation (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976298)

Discussions like this explain a lot about what motivates employees in various organizations. And the cultures of these organizations.

Different people are motivated by different things. Study Maslow's hierarchy of needs [wikipedia.org] . Some people seek friends. Some seek accomplishment, the esteem of others or themselves, or creativity and problem solving for its own sake. I think groups who place too much emphasis on socialization attract people somewhat lower on this motivational scale. And in many cases, this is a conscious management strategy. Keep people down on the ladder, so to speak, and they are easier to manage.* Excluding people from social groups, particularly if they are needy in this area is an effective tool.

* Due to some economic circumstances, I found myself able to retire very comfortably at the age of 28. Nevertheless, I continued to work. Not for the money, but just for the sake of accomplishing something. Unfortunately, this put me at odds with quite a few managers who sought to control their employees with the paycheck. It never worked on me and, as a result, I never lasted very long working for them. Even if my job performance was judged exemplary.

Written up for eating with co-workers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976324)

And recently, my boss has come out and said "You are not allowed to go to lunch with your co-workers. It harbors an atmosphere that we are all friends and we are not, we are co-workers."

I actually thought about going to a lawyer about this because as far as I am concerned no one should be able to tell me who I can and can not spend my off hours with, even if that off hour is my lunch break.

He doesn't make any sense. (1)

Zapotek (1032314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976328)

So the ones that don't require any sort of feel-good small talk, social validation or an ego boost are the pathetic/sad ones? Ooook then...

Old news YAY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976336)

Old news YAY. This is something DeMarco wrote in Peopleware more than a decade ago. Why is this news???

Missing the Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976402)

All of the comments regarding skipping/taking a short lunch fail to see the point here. If you're trying to shave minutes off your day, then clearly you're not of an entrepeneurial mindset. Instead, you're "punching the clock", content to collect a check for your 40 hours a week. Nothing wrong with that if that's your thing. Just know that you're missing out on the core of what makes business fun...generating ideas and seeing (some) of them succeed.

You may very well be off in a corner with your Capri-Sun and applesauce hatching a plot for world domination, but don't lose sight that at some point, you'll need to *sell* your idea to others. Why not get an early start and collaborate from the point of conception?

Who's this guy? (3, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976408)

Joel-on-Software Spolsky promotes himself as an authority on software development, but he only runs a tiny company that makes applications for a relatively simple problem. It's still a tiny company, after over a decade of operation. I'd rather hear from the people who managed the software for Voyager. Or the vehicle stabilization system for a modern car. Or the radio inside the iPhone. (I know the guy who headed that team; he waited until the iPhone shipped, and then quit Apple in disgust with having to work for Steve Jobs.) Or the file system that keeps Google working even when machines fail.

Need a break from the day (1)

tacokill (531275) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976448)

I work in a tough industry. My day starts off with a fire alarm at 8am and doesn't stop until I stop. I thrive in this world because I love what I do. I don't mind the non-stop work or pressure and I am definitely in the extrovert camp.

However, I need break from time to time and lunch is it for me. It's a time that I can let my mind wander and recharge my batteries for the afternoon's activities. Not that I don't go to lunch with co-workers. I do. I just can't imagine doing it every single day and I really can't imagine doing more work over lunch.

For me, it is no more complicated than "leave me alone for a few minutes and if you do, we will surely get more done later". I just need a break.

Kill me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976472)

I don't even like having lunch with the whole department together once a year for the Xmas holidays, why on earth would I want to sit with any subset of those people every.single. day. because my boss is a self-important ass and thinks that lunch together is somehow valuable to everyone on the team?

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