Monday, April 30, 2012

Offering lunch to our team

We've written previously that we were planning to offer lunch and snacks to our team in Sydney when we moved into our offices in Surry Hills. We have offered lunch and dinner to our team in China for nearly 2 years now. We've now been in our Surry Hills offices for just over 12 months and we can definitely say that offering lunch and snacks is a well loved perk and has a positive impact on the culture within our office.

We don't skimp on lunch and average around $12 per person per day for lunch and another $2 per person per day for snacks. Our lunch regulars are Sushi on Stanley, Madam Cha Cha, Grill'd, Zushi, Mad Pizza, Max Mex, Pie Face, Miss Chu and the amazing Arthur's Street Kitchen. If anyone has any other suggestions for great takeaway / delivery lunch options in Surry Hills please let us know! Snacks include healthy options like fruit and nuts, and the less healthy 'Donut Friday' where we get donuts from Krispy Kreme or pick up some desserts from Bourke St. Bakery.

There are tax benefits to offering lunch to our team. Like other expenses we can claim a GST input tax credit on non-fresh food purchases where GST is charged, which employees buying lunch for themselves can't, and the cost, if catered into the office, is a tax deduction for the business without income or fringe benefits tax needing to be paid by the employees. Normally an employee would have to buy lunch out of their post tax income.

Shortly after starting to offer lunch we asked the team about whether they would prefer to receive the money we spend on lunch as salary and BYO lunch, there was unanimous consensus that a delicious, social lunch each day is much preferred.

We started out having brainstorming sessions over lunch where we'd brainstorm some issue we were having in the business, but this quickly felt too much like work so we switched away from doing that. Our conversations now are a mix of personal and work related topics.

Lunches have been great for the team getting to know each other. Our engineering and marketing/customer happiness teams work quite separately day to day and it would be easy for these two parts of the office to not intermingle.

Overall we couldn't be more please with the investment we've made in offering lunch and snacks to our team in Sydney, and we get similar benefits offering lunch and dinner to our team in China. More businesses should do it!

Originally posted to StartupSmart.


  1. Michael,

    We have been offering lunch at our company as well for some time now. But it gets time consuming sometimes to all agree on what they want to eat as well as a time to eat as everyone has different schedules. How do you take orders? And do you have a set time to eat every day?


  2. Hi Alex. We experienced similar issues when we started out. We now have a Google Spreadsheet which we all have access to with the places we order from in the columns and names in the rows. Everyone fills out their order in advance for each place we order from and can update it whenever they like. We eat at 12 everyday and Jonaye who orders lunch each day asks around 11:30am what people feel like and whatever gets the most votes / we haven't had for a while wins. It's working reasonably efficiently for now with 12 people in the office. Might need to review that process as we get larger.

  3. Interesting stuff! Im going to borrow your idea, hope you dont mind :)