“Never eat lunch alone,” my dad told me before my first job.

As a self-proclaimed extrovert, even I cowered from the advice. Never? What about introvert time or busy days? Eating lunch alone may often be easy, but a shared lunch is one of the simplest and most powerful ways to connect with people. Even in the socially-distant world of COVID, you can still grab lunch with coworkers and potential business partners.

Here are 3 reasons why you should consider asking a coworker or business partner for lunch. 

1. Taking breaks refreshes your mind

According to a survey referenced in Forbes, 90% of workers report that taking a lunch break improves their productivity. Breaks also help relieve “decision fatigue,” created by the pressure of nonstop work. Psychology Today discusses how taking regular breaks, especially lunch breaks, helps the brain’s prefrontal cortex take a break from the heavy thinking work, in order to provide more room for creativity and problem-solving. Attention, according to a study in Science Daily, is not a limited resource that can be used up. Taking a breather can refresh the brain and leave you ready to solve that problem, confront that obstacle, or work with that difficult person.

2. Goodwill outside the office helps inside the office

People want to work with people who they like and understand. Getting lunch with coworkers and business partners helps build the camaraderie and common understanding needed to collaborate effectively. Maybe a few texts after hours aren’t a big deal to you, but could be inconvenient to someone who is driving kids to baseball at the time of the text. Maybe your coworker’s Myers Briggs means they prefer organization to spontaneity, and so advance notice for big meetings or a more detailed agenda could help them feel more comfortable. Maybe your coworker paints on the weekends, and they want your advice as they transition from accounting into graphic design. Understanding your coworker’s values, communication style, and habits can help you be more sensitive to their needs. 

3. Humans crave connection, meaning, and excitement

A Gallup study found that women who have a best friend at work are 63% more likely to be productive than women who say they do not have a work best friend. Harvard Business Review found that having informal networks, or “multiplex friendships,” helps employees be more successful. 

Not only is it pragmatic to connect with colleagues, but it can also significantly improve your quality of life. Depending on the workplace and family environment, it is likely you may spend more hours at work than waking hours at home. Why not enjoy it, build friendships, and enjoy spending time with your coworkers? 

Get lunch while staying safe. Here are a couple of creative ways to connect and still stay conscious of the conditions changed by the pandemic.

Facetime your coworker(s). If you are working from home, you don’t have to rush your meal with a few bites in between virtual meetings. You can book time on your calendar with one or a few coworkers to Facetime while eating lunch. You can virtually recreate the feeling of shared lunches in the office while enjoying a welcome break from the monotony.

Eat lunch outdoors, while socially distant. You can sit outdoors at a restaurant or grab a picnic together. Not only can you get out of the house, but you can also enjoy some time outdoors with a friend.

Connecting with colleagues can help you be more successful and build the relationships that help make us human. Every lunch you grab, whether virtually or socially distant, builds community by strengthening friendship. 

PS – if you take my advice, please tag me on social media and let me know how it goes!

By Esther Ehrenman, eCommerce Product Manager, Beacon Building Products