Admin Assistance: How to Organize a Last-Minute Office Lunch

Posted by on Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 with Comments Off on Admin Assistance: How to Organize a Last-Minute Office Lunch Comments

Here’s a scenario many administrative assistants will instantly recognize: it’s ten o’clock, and you’re in the middle of a project when you get an email from your boss. “Having the marketing department get together for an office lunch meeting at noon today in the conference room. Can you take care of it?”

secretary on the phone

“Sure, I have time to plan a lunch meeting right now!” Image source: flickr user Steve Guttman NYC

One simple question and your morning has taken a totally new direction. Two hours and counting, and you have an office lunch to organize. Here are a few simple steps to streamline your new schedule:

Gather all the information

Send an email with follow-up questions immediately. Confirm with your boss the number of people attending, if she needs any special equipment set up in the conference room, and if she has a preference on the food you’ll order.

Order food with input

Etiquette varies by office when it comes to gathering input. If you’re expected to coordinate lunch with all the participants, don’t simply ask: “What would you like for lunch?”. Head off any indecision, and instead send an email with a specific plan: “I was planning on ordering Chinese delivery for your lunch meeting. Please let me know if there are any objections by 10:30.” This will save you a lot of time and potential back-and-forth!

Catered lunch at the office

You may not have time to coordinate orders, so order to please everyone! Image source: flickr user sociomantic

Ordering food without input

If you aren’t expected to ask for input on the food being served, plan on including a few vegetarian-friendly options unless you know for certain everyone eats meat or fish. Make sure you schedule the food to arrive around 15 minutes prior to the meeting’s start time so you can lay it out before the participants start to arrive.

office lunch table with papers

Leave plenty of room for papers and pens as well as plates. Image source: flickr user Ikhlasul Amul

Set up the “dining” room

Arrange the conference room’s furniture for the meeting. If someone is making a presentation, arrange all the tables and chairs to face the front of the room, and leave plenty of room at each seat for laptops or papers (providing a few pens wouldn’t be a bad idea, either). Place the food table (that will hold either buffet-style dishes or individual takeout meals) on the opposite side from the presenter so that they won’t be disturbed when participants go for seconds or refills on beverages.

Set the table(s)

If you’ve ordered individual meals for all participants, set places with plates, napkins, and silverware to make it easier for people to simply come in, grab their lunch, and take a seat. Alternatively, set up a successful buffet table by placing plates at the beginning, food in the middle, and napkins and cutlery at the end. In either case, set a small table to the side with beverages, ice, and drinking glasses so participants don’t have to juggle food and drinks at the same time.

Provide a few thoughtful extras

Since an office lunch meeting can function as both a social and a work engagement, make it easy for participants to transition between the two. Provide wet-naps or small bottles of hand sanitizer to avoid sticky fingers on keyboards, scatter extra pens around the dining tables, and leave a small dish of mints by the door.

Lunch meeting in a conference room

Well-fed and attentive: a successful office lunch. Image source: flickr user tvol

Overall, remember that lunch meetings are about more than just food. Studies have shown that spontaneous meals can show appreciation and increase employee satisfaction, and your role as an administrative assistant helps make that possible. You take care of the details, and your boss can take care of running an efficient meeting!

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