The fact that a tech startup serves free breakfast to all employees every morning between 8:30 and 9:05 a.m. isn't exactly revolutionary. As product manager Jay Hum writes in an essay for the Harvard Business Review, free food is kind of par for the course in Silicon Valley, an expected perk. The fact that free breakfast at a Silicon Valley start-up can include a "sloppy joe, cheesy scrambled eggs, home fries, crispy bacon, and sausage links," amid myriad vegan and vegetarian options, isn't that surprising, either, given the serious snack bar situations at many tech businesses. (Though it's certainly a jaw-dropping spread.) But Hum makes a really compelling argument as to why employees should get free breakfast everyday, regardless of industry standards or the type of company at which they work.
According to Hum, there are three reasons why the team at Pivotal, the company at which he works, offers free breakfast. The first is to make sure everyone is on the same schedule. "Free food, during a limited, half-hour window, both saves people some hassle and gets them to show up at the same time to kick off the workday," Hum explains. Feeding everyone at the same time also "aligns" their blood sugar levels, meaning that employees can work through the morning without losing focus or getting hangry.
There's also a motivational, team-building benefit to eating breakfast as a company. "It gives Pivotal employees and clients a daily window to discuss what they are currently working on, share war stories, and help each other," writes Hum. The end of breakfast is always marked by a cowbell, which indicates that the all-company meeting has begun. That opportunity to check in every day is a great way to facilitate camaraderie and put everyone in a good mood.
Hum does note that free breakfast might not be the best fit for every company; it all depends on your individual office's culture and needs. But I'm pretty sold on the idea that serving a hot, free breakfast at the office is a good idea. I mean, how can you not look forward to work when you know you've got a breakfast sloppy joe waiting for you when you're done with your commute?