Should we eat lunch with co-workers?

This morning, my daily internet news browsing led me to an article discussing the mental health and overall benefits of eating dinner together with our families. The main benefit cited by the author was that it provided a platform for communication, which is the first necessary step to tackling problems. It got me thinking, do these benefits also apply when we dine with our "work family"?

Eating lunch with co-workers isn't a phenomenon that has been largely studied to this date, but I could surmise what some of the pros and cons may be. 

On the one hand:

  • It gives us a chance to bond on a more personal level with our co-workers
  • It's fun -  eating with others is more exciting than sitting alone with your tupperware of leftovers
  • It boosts team productivity - according to this study 
  • Social engagement helps to improve our mental health and wellness! 

On the other hand:

  • It may not allow us to fully disconnect from work
  • It can cause us additional stress if we're concerned with how we should present to our co-workers during this not-quite-formal but not-quite-relaxed gathering

Personally, my lunch environment selection varies from day-to-day. Usually, I'm a pretty social person so I often opt for eating with co-workers. I love bouncing my ideas off of different people to gather new perspectives on work or life endeavours and lunch is a great time to do this. An added benefit for me is that when I eat lunch with co-workers I usually get to try some of their food!

Other times, I choose to eat alone. I'll even go so far as to leave the building to ensure that no one interrupts on this precious "me time". It's days where I haven't slept well, have a lot on my mind, or simply want to enjoy my own company that I just want it to be me and my quinoa salad.

Solitary and social lunching both have benefits to my mental wellness, depending on what my needs are that day. Sometimes I need that dose of laughter and social connectedness, other times I am desperate for self-reflection and relaxation.

We would be so interested to hear your thoughts about eating lunch with co-workers. Let us know in the comments below!

Do you eat lunch with your co-workers or alone? Do you switch it up sometimes? If you eat with your co-workers do you enjoy it? Or do you do it because you believe you should?  Shouldn't lunch be a time that we're supposed to use to get away from work-related things? Share your thoughts with us!