What started as a simple idea at a startup hack-a-thon has quickly become an obsession of a handful of people, myself included. Lunchpool began as a way to help people build connections over common topics during their lunch break. Since starting this project, however, we’ve unearthed a world of research that points to a very large problem: The lunch break as we know it is being threatened. We’re losing some of our abilities to socialize because of how awkward it can be to build new connections as adults.
What’s the problem?
There is an unmistakable trend of people eating solo lunches at their desks. We’ve dubbed it the “desktop dining epidemic,” but I think it’s more troublesome than that. My hunch is that we’re being conditioned to believe that it’s much easier to stare at a computer screen or a mobile device while we eat than interact with another human. We’re losing a bit of our ability to socialize and interact meaningfully with one another. Eating meals used to be a communal ritual where we got to know the people around us. In the past, you’d share a meal with your colleagues or work associates. You would invite a friend from a neighboring company for lunch to catch up. You’d go to lunch with your team mates to celebrate the latest milestone you hit.
I’m not saying that these things don’t still happen. On the contrary, a study in Google’s “Project Aristotle” determined that some of the most successful workers have a tendency to rotate dining companions quite often. However, it seems that these productive lunch behaviors are happening with less and less frequency. The most disturbing trend is the tendency for workers to skip lunch entirely in the name of productivity. It seems some workers think that taking a break in their day will put them behind in their work. (See the Washington Post article “You may look more productive skipping lunch or eating at your desk, but you aren’t”.
Research shows that this is counterproductive. We need a break in our day to give our minds a reboot. Getting up and away from the office for an hour can have profound effects on productivity and creativity. Simply working through lunch can leave you feeling drained and brain dead.
What’s the solution?
We’re working with our team of UX Researchers, developers, and passionate lunch break enthusiasts to understand how we can turn these trends around. We know from first-hand experience that lunch break meetups can be magical experiences where you really connect with the people around you. In order to learn more about these experiences, we’re creating the Lunchpool app. Our goal is to help individuals connect with the people in their networks. Whether you connect with someone over a shared skill or professional interest, an outside-of-work hobby, or a favorite TV show like Game of Thrones or Silicon Valley, we want to show you that lunch is the perfect time to meet up and grow your network!
We’re confident that the connections you can build to strengthen and expand your network will help you with your professional goals. We’re also pretty sure that a lot of the feelings of isolation and disconnectedness being felt in the modern workplace are at least in part caused by not really knowing the people around you. It’s easy to go to work, do your part, and clock out every day. However, how much more fulfilling is your work if you really know and enjoy the people you work with from day to day? We want to investigate and explore how to strengthen networks and build this kind of social capital!
If you are interested in helping us learn more about how to leverage the lunch break for a better world, please consider requesting an invite to our private beta. We’d love to have you join us!