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  • Writer's pictureArden Sperry

How do you host a team lunch?

Let’s dig into what makes an office lunch so dang good!

  • Two words: free food. Don’t forget about your remote employees - they want in on the free grub, too!

  • Food is personal. Give your employees a say in what you order.

  • Food builds community. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to strengthen your team.

Whether you’re in person, remote, or hybrid, all team members can participate in a team lunch to create unity and connectivity throughout your company.

Ready to plan the perfect team lunch to show your employees how much they're appreciated? Here's what you need to know as you plan.

Four working women take a lunch break and have a conversation on a stone bench outside

What is the purpose of team lunch?

Food at its core is about bringing people together by experiencing culture, unity, and community.

Think about all the community events that are inherently associated with food: Oktoberfest, the State Fair, Chinese New Year, food truck festivals, chili cookoffs, holiday parties, and your apartment’s summer BBQ pool-side bash.

Food brings people together. A team lunch is no different.

According to USA Today, simply providing free food to your employees can result in a 67% job satisfaction rate. Employees feel seen and valued when employers take the time to appreciate their workforce.

What should I order for team lunch?

Finding a restaurant that everyone likes is a pain, right?

Your employees all have different needs: diets, allergies, intolerances, lifestyles, and food preferences. We understand the stress of desperately trying to give your team an enjoyable team lunch experience while accommodating everyone’s individual food needs.

So, how do you accommodate all of your employees’ requests into one single restaurant or order?

Hot take—you don’t.

Put team lunch in the hands of your employees.

Try BYOL (bring your own lunch). Here’s how to kick this off:

  • Give your employees a stipend, say $25, for team lunch.

  • Let them know they can order whatever they want, from wherever they want.

  • Enjoy your favorite meals, together!

Structuring a team lunch like this ensures everyone can participate, no matter their dietary restrictions or preferences. Plus, this removes the stress and hassle of finding the perfect restaurant that works for the entire team.

Step it up on catering.

BYOL isn't a fit for every company, and the classic catered lunch may be the best way to go.

If this describes your situation, here are a few steps you can take to still ensure all of your employees rally around the team lunch:

  • Ask your employees what they want. Gather information from each employee on dietary restrictions or preferences. Use this to inform your ordering decisions.

  • Order a variety of entrees. Understand that not everyone is comfortable divulging their dietary needs to their employer. However, you don’t want your employees stuck with nothing to eat but the side salad. To be safe, order a few entrees that satisfy the following parameters: one vegan option, one gluten-free option, one peanut and nut-free option (or ask for these on the side, when possible), and one option you believe most everyone can enjoy.

  • Ask the restaurant for help. Overwhelmed by the menu? Consult your catering provider for recommendations on meals that satisfy your employees’ diverse needs. Usually, the chef or manager is happy and able to help.

Whether you go with BYOL or with the traditional catered-style team lunch, bitewell is a great tool to use. bitewell allows you to cater while accommodating your team’s top dietary needs. Or, put the purchasing power directly in your employees’ hands by dropping a stipend in their bitewell wallets. Either way, bitewell removes the stigma from team lunches and allows the entire team to come together to enjoy their favorite meals!

How long should a team lunch be?

Team lunch should be as long as your employee's lunch break. *cough* Schedule team lunch for AT LEAST half an hour. Ensuring that each employee has enough time to eat, chat and digest their food will deliver a positive workflow post-lunch.

According to the American Psychological Association, taking the time to pause, especially during lunch, benefits your company immensely and inherently increases employee productivity. When employees feel valued and appreciated, they tend to perform their best.

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