Let me say, right off the bat, that what I’m suggesting is not possible in all workplace settings, and I don’t advocate customer service be interrupted to do it.
Do you have lunch potlucks at your workplace? They’re quite a treat, and an educational tool as well! We’re fortunate to have a lunchroom in which to do this, but even a small place will do. While we had good cooks to start with, these gatherings have nurtured and encouraged contributions outside our comfort zone.
We’ve had some elaborate lunches (like our festive and spicy Mardi Gras feast), but it doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be a simple hors d’oeuvre table or veggie/fruit trays with a variety of homemade dips. Depending on your staff numbers, by the time each one brings a little something, it can be a pretty appealing table. If you have a refrigerator with a freezer, you can do a sundae party, with 2 or 3 people buying ice cream while the rest bring a sauce or topping!
One of the best things about our potlucks is how we’ve all expanded our culinary horizons regarding what foods we think we don’t like. We set cultural and geographical themes like Asian, Italian, Caribbean, Mediterranean, German, place 2 or 3 related cookbooks on display (for referral at coffee breaks), then post a sign-up sheet, and the recipe ideas start to flow. Soon, individuals who thought they had little to offer, are cooking up a show-stopper dish. Those of us who might be timid or undecided about our contribution just keep checking the list. As it grows, we get inspired and fill in the gaps! You can always sign up for drinks, paper plates or napkins.
We discovered our own cheerful decorator on staff, too, and she arrives, weighed down, on the morning of with a box of tablecloths, centerpieces, and sometimes even costumes! It’s an event that feeds on itself, no pun intended. You may find you have a Martha Stewart or Michael Smith in your office. Hopefully, not a Gordon Ramsay to dampen your spirits!
So, borrow some cookbooks from the library, have your own little office display, and plant the seeds for your first office potluck. Be smart, and get your boss to buy in. Helpful Hint: we do this for the boss’s birthday. Find out his/her favourite foods and that can be your first effort. (Note: We did it for our former boss who conveyed this very important piece of information to his replacement … and the tradition continues. We must be doing something right!)
Head of Branch Services