Emerging from the pandemic has been hard— really hard.
The pandemic has recalibrated our mindsets. We have reprioritized our values, emphasizing our health, wellness, social habits, and how we work. While hybrid work allows for greater work-life integration, many feel there is a tradeoff between reduced time with co-workers that negatively impacts innovation. The technology that was meant to connect us has actually divided us more than ever and provides the best excuse to resist returning to the office.
We know the most compelling reason for people to return to the workplace is to connect with one another. So, how do we reconcile the need to move forward with the reluctance to go back to the workplace? As architects, we want to create an environment that supports rebuilding trust and collaboration. Perhaps, the best way to move the workplace forward is by taking a step back…
Historically, families have gathered to share a meal to connect with one another; a powerful tradition. Food has always been the social glue to our social infrastructure. Teams who traditionally share meals (firefighters, army platoons, etc.), demonstrate higher levels of collaboration and overall well-being. When people “break bread” together, they feel closer to one another, and trust is solidified. We spend more time with our coworkers than with our own families. So, wouldn’t it be ideal to intentionally design an environment that inspires colleagues to get to know one another— perhaps the workplace equivalent of the family dinner?
The constant push to be more productive has created a culture where over 50% of workers eat lunch alone at their desks while working. Lunch al fresco? More like lunch al-desko. Something quick and easy is prioritized over enjoyment, nutrition, or satiety. Encouraging employees to step away from their desks and take a break from work to connect with their colleagues helps fights fatigue, depression, and burnout. Sharing a meal increases happiness and job satisfaction, creating a more focused and engaged workforce.
Enter: CollaborEATs. CollaborEATs is a theoretical recipe designed to transform work-life integration by encouraging colleagues to prepare and share meals together. It restructures how we work to fulfill the basic human need for connection. It is a place where we can gather to work together, build new relationships, and reinforce existing ones. The Harvard Business Review states that “although serendipity plays a role in collaboration, devoting space, time, and resources to communal eating may be more effective.” It can break down barriers amongst coworkers, which can inspire dialogue and spark new ideas that otherwise might not occur. The office and hybrid work are here to stay. CollaborEATs moves the workplace forward by taking a step back— creating an environment where a sense of community is strengthened through the power of sharing a meal.
Although CollaborEATs remains a concept, we are witnessing clients becoming more inspired by the ideas CollaborEATs aims to make a reality. Since hybrid work is here to stay, understanding individual perspectives, bringing people together, and building community is more important than ever. CollaborEATs continues to take the next work environment one step further by thoughtfully capturing these ideals into one workplace destination.
The one universal thing we can agree on loving is food. If we take a step back and break bread with one another, it is a meaningful way to get people to connect and engage with one another again. This submission adds an extra layer of choice in an environment, bringing in food as well as the community together in a beautifully designed space with a variety of settings.
This addresses the opportunities to get together face-to-face that we have been missing since the pandemic! This is a great solution to get to know people because you really do get to know people over food.
WITT Project Design Team
The SLAM Workplace Innovation Think Tank was created to advance the conversation about the future of work, provoke new design ideas, and fuel inspiration to create transformative workplace experiences. Our team draws upon a framework that cultivates thought leadership, ideas, and metrics that expand and elevate our expertise internally and externally. We leverage multiple media platforms to post and publish content related to the corporate market with focus on workplace design insights, commercial real estate development, and relevant industry news.