I've been trying something new over the past month and a half at my current company. Every day during lunchtime, I take exactly one person out to eat with me. We always leave the office, and it's always just the two of us.
I can confidently say that I've thoroughly enjoyed doing this and may never stop so long as I continue working in an office environment.
First of all, it just brightens my day. I look forward to my time with these people. Everyone is super interesting and cares about all sorts of things. That's what stands out: they're all driven in some way, and I could ask them questions endlessly about what makes them tick. It doesn't matter what department they're in or how experienced they are; their stories are always heartfelt and genuine and make me excited for one reason or another.
A lot of times, a strong mutual connection occurs where we get in a conversation that we aren't quite ready to end. I love when that happens.
I didn't come up with this idea on my own. Someone in our office introduced us to an app called Donut that pairs employees for lunch dates every two weeks. I liked my first two "donuts" so much that I just decided to start doing them on my own. And just like that, I haven't not had a one-on-one lunch in over a month. I've even started scheduling breakfasts with certain people who are into it.
I don't know why this wasn't more of a thing prior to this quarter. Historically, we've all eaten together as a group. We gradually grew from 20 to 50 people, and instead of all eating at the same table, we had to spread out over 3–4 tables just to fit everyone. New hires have been continually making appearances, and I've found myself wanting to know them better than casual office encounters would afford.
Eating out with people takes time, and I do have to consciously make sure I'm fulfilling my official duties on an ongoing basis. I think the trade is worth it; I don't know when else I'll have the chance to connect with these people if I don't do it now.
This was the first week where one of my peers took me out to lunch. It made me feel awesome. I hope more people decide to take the initiative to get to know their co-workers in a more personal way.