What office doesn’t have a kitchen in it? It’s inconceivable to design a modern office without a special room or corner that holds a refrigerator, microwave and coffee pot. And that is because of the universal human desire to share food in a communal setting. For millennia, human beings have gathered around food for nurturance, conversation and community. Sharing food at a common table is such a basic human need that scientists give it a fancy name: “commensality”. Commensality has been shown to bond people together and to create intimacy that can’t be achieved in any other way. The act of sharing food is so powerful that leaders should consider how to use food routines to embed and symbolize their corporate culture.
Usually when we think of building a positive company culture, we think of sharing noble ideas: values, vision, common purpose, goals, people policies and practices. These are intangible means to building a culture, appealing to team members’ hearts and mind. What about involving the physical body in symbols of a positive culture? If a leader really wants to embed a culture in team members, food is a vehicle to consider. Food ingested into the body becomes nutrition for cells, organs, bones and muscles. In addition, food is related in our experience to pleasure, nurturance, socialization and inclusion. In designing impactful routines that will bond a team and translate into symbols of the culture, food traditions are paramount.
From the desk of