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Businesses Programming

The Importance of Lunch 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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The Importance of Lunch

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  • Lunchbreaks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:25PM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I think I must work with you. I'm not saying this IS you, but the people that I've met who hold this opinion "It is bad enough that I have to work with a moron" seem to feel that way about EVERYONE. If everyone is a moron and you are the only person worth a shit, then does that say that out of the entire human race, you (and all of the people like you) are the only ones who AREN'T morons? I mean, the lunch thing is only a small facet of a bigger deal, YOUR ATTITUDE is SHIT!!! I just had you kicked off my pr
        • Re:Lunchbreaks (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @03:29PM (#35978386) Homepage Journal

          Face it, Pal. There are indeed at least ten morons for every one person who has a clue. Look around you. Your family. Your neighbors. Your coworkers. People you bump into. You can't always recognize them at first meeting, but as you get to know them, chances are they are idiots.

          Alright, now. Let me address those who are NOT complete idiots. I have different sets of experiences. I lived at sea for 5 years, for instance. I served in the military for 8 years, total. That's a big chunk of life, even at my age. I've worked construction for another big chunk of my life. I've drive truck for another big part of my life. Guess what? NO ONE at work shares any of those experiences. Their interests, their experiences, their lives are so different from my own - in general, I'm just not interested in much that they have to say.

          I socialize with my immediate boss, to some extent, because we happen to share some life experience. (She's an old broad, we remember a lot of the same things from our childhoods, despite growing up about 1500 miles apart.) I socialize to a limited extent with a few of the guys. I don't want to go out drinking with them, but we'll bullshit together. They have mostly lived a rougher life than the protected little weenies who work around us. We can find some stuff in common.

          The rest? I should socialize for the sake of being a nice guy? I mean, really. What do I have in common with some weenie who graduated from school twenty years after me, and has never done anythng but work production? I mean, nothing. No travel, no military, no scuba diving, no camping or exploring the outback of nowhere, nothing that I find exciting. Oh, I could talk tech with them - but they don't know tech from horse carriages. No common experience, nothing to talk about.

          I could probably build a bridge if I wanted to talk sports, but sports bore me to fucking tears. Women? Phhht. If there's nothing else to discuss, that even gets old after awhile.

          So, to hell with socializing. I'll be nice at work, and withhold my general contempt for all the do-nothings that I work with. And, I'll continue being my asocial self. Not antisocial, but asocial. I get enough companionship at home, thank you.

          • Re:Lunchbreaks (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:42PM (#35979224) Homepage

            No common experience, nothing to talk about.

            There's your fallacy.

            You have lots to talk about with those people, precisely because of the experiences you don't have in common.

            There seems to be a lot of very boring people in this thread. By that I mean, they're only interested in spending time with others who share the same experiences, the same opinions, same political views, and have no interest in anyone who might have something different to say.

            If you don't want any exchanges with your coworkers other than the minimum transfer of data required to complete your job, that is your right. I have no issues with that.

            But don't pretend your attitude is due to some deficiency in those around you or a lack of common experience. You don't want to talk with the people you work with because of YOU, not because of them.

            I'll get off your lawn now.

    • by 0racle ( 667029 )
      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 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by negRo_slim ( 636783 ) <mils_orgen@hotmail.com> on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:36PM (#35976044) Homepage

        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.

        • 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.

          • by gknoy ( 899301 )

            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 t

        • 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...

        • I just grab the food or whatever and head back to my desk to eat while I read /. :)

        • Re:Lunchbreaks (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Abstrackt ( 609015 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @01:38PM (#35976918)
          Welcome to extrovert society. I'm a huge introvert, my perfect lunch break is sitting at my desk with in-ear monitors (part earphone, part earplug) listening to some good music and screwing around online for a bit. I appreciate that the extroverts try to involve me in their social gatherings, it's their way of saying they care about me, but I really wish they'd understand that the best thing for me is to have half an hour alone.
    • Re:Lunchbreaks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:30PM (#35975966) Homepage Journal

      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 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:33PM (#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.

        • 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.

        • I agree with both of your points, but I think you're missing the whole point of the article.

          Let me give you an example. A few years ago I joined a team where most people stayed around for lunch (some lived close enough to go have lunch at home, or their spouses worked close enough to go eat with them, etc). So a lot of the time we'd have 5-10 people from a couple projects eating lunch together, but with one unbreakable rule: no talking about work. People would actually stop you if you brought up anything wo

      • 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 (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @01:02PM (#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.
    • 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.

      • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

        Your state laws may not allow that option

        if you're an exempt employee, I'm not aware of any law that would force you to take a lunch break. Your employer can tell you to work through breakfast lunch and dinner, and your only recourse is to quit.

        If you're non-exempt, in California you have to take a 30 minute (unpaid) lunch [ehow.com] whether you want to or not. (there are a few exceptions that would allow an on-duty meal break)

    • 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 some

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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

    • >>>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

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • by Dr.Bob,DC ( 2076168 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:46PM (#35976188) Journal
      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!
      • by XanC ( 644172 )

        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?

      • "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

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

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

        No doubt.

    • 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 (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:59PM (#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.

      • 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.

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      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.

    • Re:Lunchbreaks (Score:4, Interesting)

      by robot_love ( 1089921 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @01:08PM (#35976540)

      I think this misses the point. It's not about making friends, its about using the tool of how we eat lunch to improve relationships between people and thus make them better contributors. You'll work better with people who are your friends.

      Also, you're a lucky man indeed if your manager pushes you to have friends to improve your performance rather than, say, berating you in front of your coworkers.

    • What is it about work that disqualifies the people there from being your friends? They are people. People have jobs. They aren't that much different that people who don't work there except they are guaranteed to have at least one thing in common with you. Statistically speaking, they should be prime candidates for friendship. They do the same job as you. They probably have a similar level of education. They probably have a lot in common with you.

      I've always found work friendships to be pretty strong. It
    • I've worked places where I just wanted to do my thing and be left alone and places where "team-building" was a forced activity. I all pays the same, but I wasn't as happy as I could be. I'm fairly introverted, so I kind of avoid people, left to my own devices, but when I've been places with other nerds that I actually wanted to talk to about things beyond work, it's made work go faster and the work environment more engaging. Even introverts occasionally need to exchange ideas with respected peers.

  • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:27PM (#35975928) Homepage Journal

    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! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:39PM (#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".

      • 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.

        • 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.

          I think you missed the point.

          The point was that the CEO can (and often does) attribute his "success" (success being defined by him) to whatever he WANTS to based upon his pre-existing bias.

          And if he fails, that doesn't mean that he was wrong. It just means that something else cancelled out his great idea. At least in his mind.

          Success in business usually comes do

        • Baa is the greatest miniature giant space porcupine in the universe! How dare you insult him so! This behaviour must not continue. Feel the burning stare of my porcupine and change your ways.

    • Sure; eating lunch together every day gets an extra chunk of time for discussing company business out of every person on the staff each day. Of course it's a great idea from the perspective of being good for the company. So is working an extra hour each day for the same salary, which is what company lunches are essentially doing.

      • So is working an extra hour each day for the same salary, which is what company lunches are essentially doing.

        And, even if the company paid for the meal, it's likely they'd come out ahead, as lunch for most professionals doesn't cost as much as they would get paid for that same amount of time (especially with a "no alcohol" policy, which wouldn't be unreasonable on the company dime).

  • I got crumbs on my keyboard...
  • Old hat (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:28PM (#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.

    Mark Z.
  • 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.

  • Extrovert (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:29PM (#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.

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      I was thinking about this as well as group think. By making everyone do certain things, one is imposing a regimen of work and though. While this might work as some places, it can also drive good people away who don't want to think the way that everyone else does, or need quiet time in the middle of the day to process. This idea of lunch every day is precisely to insure that everyone is in lockstep. The better model, IMHO, is have a work provided informal luncheon once a week or once a month where someon
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:30PM (#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.

  • 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.

  • workers vs owners (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hazel Bergeron ( 2015538 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:33PM (#35976016) Journal

    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.

  • by jayhawk88 ( 160512 ) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:34PM (#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?

    • 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.
    • 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.

    • by adenied ( 120700 )

      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.

    • by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @01:02PM (#35976430) Homepage

      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.

      • by mcmonkey ( 96054 )

        You're not interested in the inane chit chat of people with nothing interesting to say, yet you read slashdot?

        So you really have no issue with bullshit and idiotic stories, you'd just rather read it from strangers than hear it from people you see everyday.

    • by bongk ( 251028 )

      And How! The reason lunch is mandated is generally so the individual gets a break. For an extroverted person, a break means visiting with others. For an introverted person (introverted in the sense that she gets her energy from being along, and finds being with others draining, not that she is "shy") a break means being left alone to recharge. Pretty insulting for an extrovert to steal away all the introvert's time to recharge because he doesn't understand that the introverts are different than he is.

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


    • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:46PM (#35976186) Homepage

      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.

      • 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 al

      • There are also introverted ways to get out of a group lunch. You obviously can't have it your way every day but there's nothing wrong with saying "I really appreciate that you thought of me but right now I just need some quiet time to recharge". And just like that you've shown sincere appreciation for being included and politely rejected the invitation.

        Hanging out with the extroverts is a balancing act, you have to find that middle ground between mental peace and maintaining strong relationships, but bein

  • by PvtVoid ( 1252388 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:38PM (#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.
    • by IICV ( 652597 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @01:27PM (#35976792)

      At Fog Creek (Joel's company), I believe they have catered lunches every day. He's not the sort of manager who orders people to have lunch together, he's the sort of manager who provides lunch for everyone who wants it in order to encourage people to have lunch together.

      It's very much a matter of carrots and sticks, which the Slashdot summary doesn't clarify at all.

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

  • by turgid ( 580780 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:42PM (#35976136) Journal

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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 backwar

  • by shellster_dude ( 1261444 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:54PM (#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.
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @12:54PM (#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.

  • 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...
  • Who's this guy? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @01:01PM (#35976408) Homepage

    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.

  • 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 da
  • I think the general idea that teams of people who get along work better is obviously sound, but it's not caused by sitting together on a bench with a box of Cheez-its. People who like each other's company are more likely to want to eat together, IF that's something they'd normally do anyway.

    For example, I am on the border of introversion and extroversion, according to most personality inventories. I enjoy being with people, but I also need time alone. I have never, ever, ever enjoyed eating with other peopl

  • by Viewsonic ( 584922 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @02:42PM (#35977798)

    Where do you people work that you can actually TALK to someone? These days people have their faces buried in their smartphones 24/7 sending LOLS and Youtubes to each other. I mean, this goes beyond even work. It goes to bars, camping etc. No one actually talks to each other anymore.

  • by quietwalker ( 969769 ) <pdughi@gmail.com> on Friday April 29, 2011 @03:36PM (#35978482)

    In today's job market you should be more aware than ever that even in technical positions, it's often who you know, not what you know that gets you the job, that lets you keep the job, that keeps you over the cut-off line when there's layoffs, that has you in line for raises, that has you spearheading the neat new technologies, that has non-technical folks deferring to you.

    I know the idea of a code ninja who silently fixes problems with nary a word might seem romantic. I get it when people say they need personal time for introspection and analysis. There are many people out there who simply work better by themselves.

    Just keep in mind that your skills need to be exponentially better than those of your peers if you're going to stand out by product/efficiency/quality alone. The guy who keeps asking you for help and self-promotes his achievements is going to end up with a raise while your name is going to pop up at the budget meetings as a potential cut after several years of 'meets expectations' evaluations.

    So, do yourself a favor, find some quiet time and think about it.

  • by DVega ( 211997 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @03:42PM (#35978544)
    Another sane advice from the guy who claimed that writing a new web-browser was the worst decision the Mozilla Foundation could make [joelonsoftware.com].
  • by juan2074 ( 312848 ) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:09PM (#35978840)
    If the company pays for lunch, why not? If not, we should all be free to bring something from home, eat whatever we want, or even skip lunch and do something else (sleep, exercise, etc.).

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"