I am currently consulting for a really nice company. The people are very nice, and the place is not overly corporate. We just finished a large project and the executive wanted to thank the team for a job well done by taking everyone out to dinner. We went to a wonderful restaurant, the food was great, and we had a room to ourselves. The whole evening was right on point.
Here’s the thing.
I just don’t like corporate dinners.
I know, I sound ungrateful. But I find them awkward and uncomfortable, even with the best of company relationships. For me, it is still work. And at night, after working all day, I just want to go home. I commute in, so I had to take a train ride that got me home late, and then I had to get up the next morning and go back to work.
I see the evening after work as my time. When I was younger, I enjoyed these events more. But now I feel like it is an infringement on my time. I want to be home with my husband, or to go see my kids, or to walk my dogs. I spend enough time at work, well, working.
So here is my solution.
The long lunch.
Instead of asking people to give up an evening, take your team out for a long lunch. A two-hour lunch isn’t going to make or break the business day. And since people are already there working, they aren’t giving up any of their personal time.
A smaller segment of our team did go out to a lunch. And it was perfect. A fixed price menu with several selections was prepared in advance, and the meal was delightful. We all had a good time, relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company. And then we went back to the office. No muss, no fuss. I didn’t have to give up any of what I consider my personal time.
I used to work at another company, and our department would do a holiday dinner. I was a single parent, and that meant I had to leave work, get my son home, get a sitter, and then meet them at the restaurant. Not only did I have to run around, but it also cost me money to hire a sitter. Another person in the department was a single parent as well, so we approached our boss and asked if we could make the celebration be a lunch instead. It had never occurred to them about us needing child care, and they gladly changed the party to a lunch. So much better. We still had a nice time, and I didn’t have to run around and be out-of-pocket for childcare.
So if you are the one organizing a corporate team celebration, consider the long lunch. It’s still a generous event, and you aren’t asking your team to give up any of their personal time. Your team will be grateful, not just for the thank you, but for not infringing on their personal life.
Lunch, let’s do it.