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I have heard that one should not eat alone at work. I tried to meet with my team members but it is hard to get this pattern to stick as I eat at different times, I would rather finish work earlier and sometimes people prefer to eat with others on the team.

I have a better time with eating with others in other teams though.

  • At what point should I stop any attempts to eat with immediate team members?
  • Or is it the wrong way to look at it and I shouldn't stop making any attempts?
  • Or should I just be open to the idea of reciprocation?

I used to work out during lunch at a different company but I switched my workouts to the morning. The funny thing is that I would meet other coworkers at the gym so there was a socialization aspect to it though it was for a self-selecting group, albeit a small one and not of my immediate coworkers. I think the gym would be a different topic to ask in a separate question but I will leave it here in case anyone thinks otherwise. Does going to the gym during lunch ruin your work/network prospects at the job as you are not eating with people and most people are more likely to be eating during lunch hour than stressing themselves at the gym? I say "more likely" from observance and not from a judgment standpoint.

EDIT:

Here's the book Never Eat Alone that I was referencing without naming as a book.

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    I don't think there's any hard-and-fast rule. In some places lunch may be a golden opportunity to network, in others just an opportunity to eat and socialise with the team you already work with. Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 17:26
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    What does "making an attempt" look like and what sort of "different time" are you talking about? If you're eating lunch at 10am every day and no one else eats until noon, it's probably annoying to keep asking "anyone want to grab lunch?" at 10am every day. If "making an attempt" means that you try pushing your lunch back to noon to match your coworkers but they're still not interested in eating with you, that's likely a different problem. Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 19:04
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    And is there a company culture which says folks must lunch together? Some of us bring lunch from home, some of us graze throughout the day, some value lunch as a quiet time to be away from other people...
    – keshlam
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 19:57
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    Where does the rule about not eating alone at work come from? Where did you hear this? I've never heard that one before.
    – DaveG
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 20:39
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    "I have heard that one should not eat alone at work." Some people feel terribly isolated if they eat alone at work. So these people should not eat alone at work. Some other people really crave a break during which they can get away from the coworkers that they already spend the rest of the day with. So these people should not eat with their coworkers. Bottom line is: do whichever is best for you.
    – Stef
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 20:41

2 Answers 2

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If this is outside the USA, cultural norms may be different. But inside the USA, I don't think I've ever seen an expectation that one "should not eat alone." My first job was with an excellent group and we had a lot of camaraderie, often meeting after work or on weekends. But even with that group, majority of people ate at their desks individually, or else ate out by themselves or perhaps with one other person.

You are worrying about something that is a non-issue. Choose whatever schedule works best for you.

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    If you see most people eating in groups, you might feel (i.e. imagine) some social pressure to join in — even if no-one would have any problem with (or maybe even notice) someone eating alone. So people's (i.e. OP's) expectations of the cultural norm might not be accurate. As you say, this may very well be a non-issue.
    – gidds
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 21:10
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You should feel no obligation to eat with your team. If they were inviting you to eat with them, it's still OK not to, but you'd need to handle that gracefully and you still might want to eat with them some of the time.

As far as eating with people on other teams, not only is that not a problem, it's actually a good thing. Building your network is an important aspect of growing your career. Lunch, the gym and other interactions with people on different teams is part of how you establish and grow your network. This is a good thing and I would encourage it.

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