Take a Page from Bitly: Why Your Office Should Add Lunch and Learns to the Weekly Routine

Posted by on Thursday, December 19th, 2013 with 1 Comments

Looking for a way to increase engagement, build relationships, and keep your employees well-fed and happy? Take a lesson from Bitly and consider implementing a regular “lunch and learn” for the entire office.

office catered meal

A relaxed lunch and learn builds relationships and employee satisfaction in the office.
Image source: flickr user Tarnie

Bitly recently used their company blog to describe their weekly lunch and learn routine: “Every Wednesday, all of us (regardless of team, meetings, or schedule that day) will sit together over lunch to learn about —anything!” While the company is best known for something relatively simple (a link-shortening service), it’s clear that they have put a lot of thought and effort into the complex task of building a positive corporate culture.

On the surface, lunch and learns are nothing new. The midday meetings have been around for quite a while, and they have been criticized for being a waste of time — especially when the “learning” portion is actually a sales pitch in disguise. That’s why we love Bitly’s twist on the old formula: “One person presents about a subject they’re interested in, a cause they care about, or a side project they’re working on while the rest of us listen and learn over a catered lunch from a nearby restaurant.” At Bitly, it isn’t just a manager or outside “expert” coming in to lecture a staff. A different member from within their own team shares their passion with their coworkers, regardless of how it’s connected to the actual work of the office.

Presenting a lunch and learn.

Employees can share their own passions and ideas during staff-focused lunches.
Image source: flickr user LunaWeb

This eclectic approach keeps the lunch and learn from feeling like just another meeting — one that employees have to give up their lunch break to attend! The practice of taking time out from busy schedules to learn about each other provides a real break in the workday while building a sense of teamwork and camaraderie in the office. Bitly’s approach of employee-led lunches gives employees a chance to get to know one another in a genuine way and sharpen public speaking skills. As an added bonus, bringing staff members from different teams and departments together is often a fantastic way to spark innovation, and could potentially create lasting connections that may not have been forged in the daily flow of office life.

Lunch and learn topics can be as varied and diverse as your employees themselves. Bitly’s previous topic list includes subjects ranging from how to build an award-winning app to customer communication to Pictionary showdowns! Incorporating interactive activities, games, or a Q&A portion into each lunch and learn can help keep all the attendees engaged. Keep in mind that it’s important to keep the atmosphere casual and fun: this is your employees’ lunch break, after all, and should be a time to relax and recharge for the rest of the day.

Laughing during a catered lunch

Keep the mood light during a lunch and learn! It shouldn’t be seen as part of the regular workday.
Image source: flickr user Shreveport-Bossier: Louisiana’s Other Side

And of course, employees always appreciate a good office lunch! Providing a quality catered meal sends the message that the company believes the lunch and learn is a worthy investment of resources. Waiter.com makes it easy to manage meal planning and maintain a regular lunch delivery schedule, preventing a weekly lunch and learn from becoming a burden on the office manager or administrator in charge of the “lunch” portion of the meeting.

Need more convincing that a lunch and learn is worth your time? Three words: Martha does it.

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One response to “Take a Page from Bitly: Why Your Office Should Add Lunch and Learns to the Weekly Routine”

  1. […] and dear to your clients and vendors. Beyond this, give your time directly to them now and then. Host a lunch and learn at their office on something you have expertise in, or even better, offer hands-on instruction to […]