“$7.13 is your total sir.”
These are the same words I hear every Friday morning from the woman behind the counter. Her eyes weary from the same cycle day over day; something that has become a habit over years of monotony. However, it’s not her which gives the donut shop the character it possesses; instead, it’s moreso the cacophony of hearing the ovens blaring, cash registers ringing, and blenders blending which gives this donut shop its character.
When someone hears of the word “donuts”, their mind most likely flashes to the decadent fried loops of dough, covered in glaze, and doused in sprinkles. Mass media and pop culture have long associated them with the police or white collar office workers. The term “office donuts” propagating its way through society over the past few decades only proves the timelessness of donuts. These snacks aren’t just limited to the upper echelons of society, they also serve as a source of joy and delight for children as well. Fond memories of walking into a bakery and smelling that ever so sweet smell of dough being fried and then choosing our delightful treat. Sometimes it’s clean, sometimes it’s not. Long johns, apple fritters, strawberry sprinkles, blueberry cake, there is always a suitable flavor for everyone.
Besides the flavor it provides, donuts, like any other snack, manages to create a common bond between people as well. Working at my second internship, we were a team of 15 strong with around 9-10 showing up in person at any given time. In an AGILE environment, many factors ensure a team’s success: teamwork, communication, and a sense of camaraderie are all necessary. Because of the recent pandemic, much of the traditional “team bonding” has been eliminated. Company outings eliminated, happy hours vanished, and most importantly, the free snacks and drinks tended to be far and few. These perks that companies once touted seemed to speak of a different reality altogether. It’s important that many people—especially the youth—still spend time eating with family and friends. Conversation over food is still a powerful tool. However, it seems that the art of conversation has atrophied in the past two years. Countless online meetings, waiting in Zoom rooms, and remote test proctoring have all isolated and glued us to our 13-inch screens everyday. As we make a slow return to normalcy, these habits will hopefully begin to heal.
Food itself has many magical properties: nourishment and satisfaction just to name a few. However, it has a tendency to create bonds as well. Over food, you can always relax—it creates a safe bond and space for us to become our most vulnerable. In the business world, you can never be afraid to have a meal with someone. Whether it’s a simple happy hour to a formal sit-down dinner, these events are the epitome of where relationships are made and nurtured. In such a relaxed setting, one really gets to know other people well. The conversation naturally flows from business to social topics which ultimately sow the seeds for lasting memories and relationships. Besides the social aspect, another valuable aspect of doing business over food is also learning how someone can handle themselves in a social situation. In the case of hiring, it is important to discover whether the person understands and has the social etiquette to represent the company—particularly for a forward-facing or leadership role.
As we move towards a reinvented workplace and work-habits, whether it be hybrid, remote, or in-person work, food will eventually become a greater asset than ever. The missed happy hours, corporate dinners, and late-night outings, will all soon come back—in a slow return to normal.