Sometimes, organizing a departmental lunch can be more complex than implementing a full scale project…

(Sometimes it is easier if it is cheap, healthy, tasty and standard menu tied to it. Image source:

One of the reasons for departmental lunch / dinner is to get together all the department staff in an “off office” mode and break down any misunderstandings and barriers. Images of tired but happy colleagues standing over large jugs of beer, drinking nuts off comes to my mind. Departmental gatherings does not happen that often at my workplace with some of the staff away on overseas assignments, on leave or simply busy with personal matters but when it happens, it feels great.

Over the years, there have been several factors that have impacted on organizing a successful departmental lunch / dinner (I am pretty sure, same factors working in dilemma in other workplace):-

1. Expensive Food, Small Portion

Have you tried paying RM40 for a small piece of chicken cooked by a master chef or RM27 for a chicken burger which tastes the same as a RM2.50 Ramly burger?

There are 2 equally valid views on this. One view says that since it is not possible to have RM27, RM40 meal on a daily basis and since it is a special occasion; there is no harm in having an expensive meal. After all, it is being paid for by the company. Another view is that why spend so much to have a normal meal – there is plenty of places that has cheap but satisfying meals for the whole load. Just because we have the means, it is not necessary we need to exhaust the means to the limit.

2. Expensive Food, Bigger Portion

Often it is a notion that the more you pay, the bigger portion it will be. It gets even better if it is a buffet. But the problem is not all in the team are big eaters. Some can eat non-stop from morning to evening and still remain slim (and hungry).

Others just need a small portion before declaring that they are too full for the day.For these small eaters, instead of paying one time for a large portion, they rather have several meals with small portions. So, if we are hopping over to the buffet, it looks wasteful to have all that food and not enough appetite to finish all that “paid for” food.

3. Traffic Jams

Would you go through a heavy, after office hours, traffic jam just to enjoy a meal? This is one reason why I don’t drive to certain shopping malls on the weekends to enjoy a good meal with the family. We can car-pool but it may not be fair to the ones who happen to have a “large people’s mover” and usually end up being the driver for the group.

One way to avoid the traffic jams would be to have the gathering on the weekends but with limited time for family and personal matters on weekdays, weekend looked too precious to use to meet office mates (who you mingle with 5 days a week). But personally it will be great to have a gathering with family and office mates on an easier time and when it is less traffic on the road.

4. Safe & Easy Parking

Best is parking in shopping complexes – it is safe and well organized. But just how many great places for good meal are inside a shopping complex? Thankfully in Malaysia, most of the good restaurants have good parking space (although not necessarily cheap).

It is not easy to get the whole department down for gatherings – it takes a lot of “to and fro” IMs to get everyone agree on the location, budget and choice of menu and even that remained unsettled until the last minute. On a smaller scale, we usually have a small gathering at the local bar on Fridays – the menu is pretty simple – couple jugs of beer.

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