Lunch is an important ritual at Euclid Analytics, a digital marketing data and analytics company based in San Francisco.
At six years old with about 40 employees, the company is currently in a growth phase, and will likely grow considerably in the next year. Euclid’s director of product, Alexander Reichert, says that for the three years he has worked for the company, the daily lunch hour has been a kind of string that ties the team together. Team lunches are helping the company instill values into employees; one of the most important is about thinking beyond one’s own self.
“Whether it was at the picnic table outside at our Palo Alto office, or to the large kitchen we have here, we do lunches every day,” Reichert says. “Everyone sits down to unwind and eat lunch together. It has been a fundamental piece of who we are, and it’s a great way of mixing the team up and having different people talk to each other. People talk about what they did over the weekend or what they have planned to do tonight, they talk about challenges they’re facing.”
On Mondays through Thursdays, the company pays for catered lunch for everyone, he says.
“Then on Friday we all go out to get lunch. We kind of play a fun game to see who brought back the best lunch. There are plenty of different restaurants here in the Mission, so we go out to different restaurants, everyone gets takeout and meets back in kitchen,” he says. “The winner typically has something to do with fried chicken or burritos. I’m a salad guy, so I always lose.”
The current Euclid office location in the Mission District of San Francisco was designed specifically to accommodate everyone, with a long bench against the wall hosting a line of tables and chairs. Though it almost sounded like a mandatory “everyone must attend” lunch meeting, the daily routine is more of a naturally built-in part of the culture.
“Everyone is busy, working on really tough problems and there’s always a lot to do,” Reichert says. “But it’s just such a fun and social aspect of our culture. We don’t necessarily see a lot of people eating at their desks, but there’s no negative sentiment to that if that’s what you want to do.”
It’s been quantified that sharing meals with other people can have positive effects for kids, and morphing the family dinner tradition into a business world benefit is working well for Euclid. It helps new hires acclimate to the culture, and Reichert says they do put newbies in the hot seat at lunch sometimes, to ask questions and get to know them. And guests are also welcome – Reichert’s mom, who recently moved to the Bay Area from Boston, wanted to visit and see the Euclid office.
“One of the unique things that we’re open to, is we kind of push our employees to reach out to inspirational people in their networks and try to get them to come in for lunch,” he says. “We usually have a special guest who joins us for lunch, whether that be somebody’s mom or a counterpart at a different company.”
The growth phase that Euclid is in is its third. The first was, of course, building the technology. Next up was to grow the company into a large network of devices and locations. Now, Reichert says they are focusing on extracting the maximum value possible from their network.
“As we move through those different pieces, there are different aspects of our products that we need to focus and spend more time on,” he says. “It’s necessary for the team to be able to evolve as we shift priorities around to build our product.”
One other activity that Euclid employs – contentious as it is with some employees – is the half-year desk switch. Every six months, all the departments move desks to a different location in the office. For teams that might not normally interface on a day-to-day basis, having new neighbors can help create team mentality connections that might not form otherwise.
Those connections will be essential in the next year, as the team hopes to double in size in that time frame. In the next two months, Reichert says that the whole company will be doing some core planning activities to prepare for growth in 2017.
“Whether it be thinking about the company as a whole, or about our customers, or the end consumer, or ensuring consumer privacy, or our community, it all goes back to this idea of thinking beyond ourselves,” Reichert says. “With any successful product, you have to be able to put yourself in your user’s shoes and the only way to do that is if you can think beyond yourself.”
April Nowicki is a contributor at Street Fight.