Free Food Boosts Office Collaboration, But Has Workers Stay Longer

Everyone loves free food and corporations have caught on. However, is the purpose of this charity to boost office morale or chain staff members to their jobs. Psychologists think it's a little bit of both.

Everyone loves free food, no matter if you're in college or a grown adult—it's hard to resist a free meal. Corporations have taken note of this affinity by offering free lunches, booze, and breakfasts to help boost morale. Justin Parkinson and Luke Jones have noticed the trend in their article for the BBC, but question if there's an ulterior motive to this generous giving.


Google has a rumored “150 feet” rule, which stipulates that no employee should further than that from a food station. Dan Cobley, Google's UK and Ireland Managing Director, believes that these food stations help the staff interact with one another. Thus, encouraging staff to initiate more creative discussion away from their desks. But Sandi Mann, Senior Psychology Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, believes companies, like Google, get a better bargain out of the deal:

"Google, in particular, provides everything and that's designed to keep you there, not just at your desk, but at work. At the extreme it makes you feel you need never go home. It's a perk and people feel they want it. But it's not a good thing if it means you haven't got a life outside."

Mann even goes so far as to accuse that companies may be using free food as a way to guilt workers to stay longer and work more hours in return for the company's kindness:

"It's the principle of reciprocity. If someone does something for you and you feel obliged to do something back. It's the same principle that marketing people use when they give you free samples."

Parkinson and Jones cite one man who was able to live off of Google's generosity by living out of his car. In 2011, Ben Driscoe survived for 60 weeks on office perks after reading a Living At Google advice website, which states that: "The only thing they don't give you is shampoo."

One psychologist has a less cynical approach when looking at free food in offices. US psychologist Abraham Maslow says that by giving employees food you fulfill their most basic needs. Once the psychological burden of finding food and shelter are lifted, people are ready to build relationships with the people around them. Maslow surmises that by meeting people's most basic “hierarchy of needs,” they can have more self-esteem in the office and have a feeling of fulfillment in working for the company.

What it comes down to is personal awareness. It's great if a company offers you free bagels and coffee, but don't let it come at the cost of your own free time. It's ok to have a life outside the office.

Read more at BBC

Photo Credit: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Related Articles

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less

NASA launches ICESat-2 into orbit to track ice changes in Antarctica and Greenland

Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.

Firing three pairs of laser beams 10,000 times per second, the ICESat-2 satellite will measure how long it takes for faint reflections to bounce back from ground and sea ice, allowing scientists to measure the thickness, elevation and extent of global ice
popular

Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).

Keep reading Show less