The Power of the Potluck

This time of year is a beautiful reminder of the power of gathering around a table and unplugging from technology, even if only for a brief period.

Thanksgiving is centered on the idea of feasting and giving thanks for the bounty. Not all holidays are so centered on consumption (not to say we don’t indulge for other holidays), but Thanksgiving is the epitome of putting the stresses and distractions of daily life on hold to appreciate family and friends over some quality food.

This idea even holds true in an office setting.

Here at Nebo, we held our Thanksgiving potluck on Monday. And while some may view a holiday potluck as a waste of time or an obstacle to productivity in an office, we disagree.

The weekday work lunch is more often than not consumed in front of a computer, or worse, on the go. By peeling ourselves away from work for just an hour or so, we get a chance to build relationships with folks in other departments of the office.

We may be a digital firm, but even we recognize the importance of unplugging now and then. Communicating via email and Gchat with our peers can’t replace face-to-face interactions.

Sometimes it feels like this digital world we live in, which supposedly promotes more connectedness, actually causes us to grow increasingly distant from real-time moments and connections. This obsession with being tapped into our phones at all times is causing a serious distraction — in our professional and personal lives.

“Researchers theorize that our phones now function not merely as communications devices, but as a kind of social cue — a prompt to think about e-mails and tweets and the number of likes on that Instagram you just posted, taking your attention away from the people in front of you,” a Washington Post article described.

And for some reason, this behavior is, for the most part, tolerated. It’s too normal these days to multitask, whether during a meeting, a phone call, or a meal.

A recent study done by Essex University found that the presence of a phone, whether or not the user was engaged on it, diminished the quality of conversation at the table.

Seeing a phone perched on the table as if it were an honored guest is distracting. It draws people away from the present moment, as they remain “connected” to everyone except the person sitting across the table.

As the holidays quickly approach, some folks dread the idea of sitting next to that one aunt who bombards them with personal questions. But zoom out a bit, and appreciate the idea that people are even taking the time to gather and catch up. Invest in the people around you.

And the folks you see every day at work are your work family. You share in each other’s stresses and celebrations. And when an office hosts a potluck, it’s an opportunity for employees to bring in a dish that reflects their family traditions. It’s an invitation to taste something that they most likely hold near and dear to their heart.

So whenever your company takes a moment to acknowledge a holiday, don’t groan or roll your eyes. Step away from the screens and take the chance to really talk to your colleagues.

It’s a preciously rare moment these days, and it should be valued as such. 

Written by Jenna Thomas on November 26, 2014

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Written by
Jenna Thomas
Senior Director, Public Relations