Build a Community by Starting a Lunch Bunch


The office I work at in New York is an interesting mix of organizations and people–it is the melting pot for 4 recent acquisitions and some long-time company employees. As can be expected, the culture and sense of community has been a little disjointed.

In an effort to build relationships and help everyone get to know their fellow employees, we created a “lunch bunch”–a bunch of people that were interested in meeting fellow employees through lunches.

The results so far have been great. The effort has cost $0 for the company, people are building their network, making friends and finding mentors, and the overall culture of the office has improved.

How to Start a Lunch Bunch at Your Office

Step 1: Get management support.

While I’m a big believer in asking for forgiveness instead of asking for permission, the lunch bunch program can benefit from having management support in two ways: 1) there’s the potential they will give you some money for a kick-off event and 2) they may offer to join the group as well.

So before going on to the next steps, meet with upper management and get their approval and feedback on starting a lunch bunch group at your work.

Step 2: Sign-up Participants

You can either do this by having a kick-off event that informs everyone of what the “Lunch Bunch” is, or simply send out an office-wide email as we did.

Step 3: Send out Lunch Bunch Groupings

Once you have the names of all the people interested, put them into an Excel sheet or database, and create random lunch groups of 4-5 people. For each group, randomly assign a “point-person” who will take the lead on organizing that group’s lunch.

Send out the assigned lunch bunches, giving an ideal end date when all lunches should be completed. It is then the responsibility of the point-person to organize a day when the members of their group can attend.  That person then just sends out an email finding a time and place that works best for the the majority of the people in that 4-5 person group.

Not everyone will be able to make it to every lunch, but you will still be creating connections with the people who can.

Step 4: Repeat Step 3

After the “deadline” date has past, simply repeat step 3–making random groups and sending them out. The frequency you do this is really up to you and the members of the lunch bunch. For some organizations, monthly works best, for others it’s quarterly. Whatever you decide, you’ll still be fostering a community.

Final Thoughts

The Lunch Bunch groups is a quick, easy, and free way of building a community in your office. It’s quick because it takes very little time to set up; it’s easy because aside from sending out the emails and groupings, all of the scheduling work is shared by the group; it’s free because people normally eat lunch anyway, so you are not adding any additional costs.

Given the lunch bunch a try? Let me know how it went in the comments.

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