I started at Redstone in early January 2014, and Friday quickly became my favorite day. Not because it initiated the weekend, but because Fridays are when we have Team Lunch.

Every Friday, for 1.5 hours. It says so on my Outlook calendar.

There are two obvious components about this recurring event. One, it includes the whole Redstone team. That means if you’re traveling, you Skype in. If you’re in the office, you keep your calendar clear.

Second, lunch is served from a local café, restaurant, or food truck.

Team lunch maintains a “one-firm” mentality despite Redstone’s multiple offices, The Colorado and California teams gather in their respective conference rooms (Sanitas and Joshua Tree, to be exact). We say hello and wave and argue about which office’s location is having better weather.

Here are some things that happen at a Redstone team lunch:

  • Presentations and group problem-solving
    Someone presents on a current project or recent trip. This is so the client team can get feedback on their analyses or drafts and the rest of the office can stay abreast of the firm’s work. Employees who have been on business trips or personal vacations will share photographs of their journey. We’ve seen Bolivia, Belize, Portugal, Australia, Thailand, Niger and so many more. The presentations vary as much as our work does, but the goal is always the same: get everyone involved to advance our thinking.
  • Outside inspiration
    We’ve heard from Eric Brown about communication and messaging techniques, Doug Vilsack on his experience with the entrepreneurial and collaborative process, Nolan Haims concerning presentation best practices, and Betsy Fader on working with boards of large foundations.
  • Birthdays and celebrations
    We gush over our colleagues’ newborns and celebrate all birthdays with cake, pie, cookies, or whatever other sugary surprise someone dreams up. On one occasion, there was a homemade cake full of gummy worms. And yes, we always sing.

And here is why team lunch is so important at Redstone:

  • Team
    Redstone is who it because of its employees. Team lunch encourages communication, conversation, and the exchange of ideas. It is a priority to get everyone in the same room regularly, even if it’s done virtually.
  • Fun
    Team lunch is fun. We work really hard, so it’s important to have time away from a computer, desk, or airplane seat.
  • Learning and Professional Development
    Our team lunches foster inclusion and development. They create an environment that emphasizes learning and encourages everyone to share their ideas.
  • Transparency and Communication
    Transparency and trust go hand-in-hand. That’s why we make sure our company updates happen weekly. It gives everyone an opportunity to have a say in key decisions.

While there are varied methods for building company cohesion, team lunches have been particularly effective for Redstone. Almost a year in, Fridays are still my favorite day of the week.

And it’s not just because of the cookies.