SLAM Collaborative’s CollaborEATs – Winners in WellBeing + Greatest Impact Award

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Chair of the Month

Emma Weckerling
Emma Weckerling
Emma is the Former Managing Editor of Work Design Magazine.

Meet the SLAM Collaborative team and their winning CollaborEATs submission in the WellBeing + Greatest Impact Award categories. You can keep up with what’s next for the SLAM Collaborative by following them on LinkedIn or Instagram. Check out the full submission below!

SLAM Collaborative

Monika Avery, Principal

Alexis Dennis-Huether, Associate Principal

Cynthia Martinez, Senior Associate / Corporate Practice Leader – Denver

James Puckhaber, Corporate Practice Leader – Atlanta

Jillian Welenc, Interior Designer

Meghan Mendes, Associate & Interior Designer

Emily Leyland, Associate & Interior Designer

Mary Martin, Senior Marketing Coordinator

Ryan Han, Architectural Designer

We connected with the SLAM Collaborative team to see how their submission has evolved since entering the competition.

“CollaborEATs is a conceptual recipe designed to transform work-life integration by providing a destination for colleagues to prepare and share meals together. Because food is the glue to our social infrastructure, CollaborEATs blends food, dining, and meeting into an enjoyable and productive workplace.

Team building is one of the biggest challenges facing hybrid work environments. Sharing a meal can be central component of keeping teams operating effectively. It makes a team feel like family and creates a level playing field that everyone can participate in and carries significant importance for organizational performance. We are seeing that people are more willing to return to the office for in-person collaboration. *Employees are eight-times more likely to stay with a company that promotes a positive experience and amenity-rich environment, therefore, it comes to us as no surprise that businesses who promote a valuable employee experience are more successful.

Although CollaborEATs remains a concept, we are witnessing clients becoming more inspired by the ideas CollaborEATs aims to make a reality. Since hybrid work is here to stay, understanding individual perspectives, bringing people together, and building community is more important than ever. CollaborEATs continues to take the next work environment one step further by thoughtfully capturing these ideals into one workplace destination.”

(*Mckinsey (This time it’s personal: Shaping the ‘new possible’ through employee experience, 2021)

Check out the slideshow, summary, and video of the submission below:

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CollaborEATs: A Recipe to Move the Workplace Forward by Taking a Step Back

Emerging from the pandemic has been hard— really hard. The pandemic has recalibrated our mindset. We have reprioritized our values to emphasize our health, wellness, social habits, and how we work. While hybrid work allows for greater work-life integration, many feel there is a tradeoff between a reduced amount of time with coworkers and the negative impact this has on innovation. The technology that was meant to connect us has actually divided us more than ever and provides the best excuse to resist returning to the office. We know the most compelling reason for people to return to the workplace is to reconnect with one another.

So, how do we reconcile the need to move forward with the reluctance to go back to the workplace? As architects, we want to create an environment that supports rebuilding trust and collaboration. Perhaps, the best way to move the workplace forward is by taking a step back… Historically, families have gathered to share a meal to connect with one another; a powerful tradition. Food has always been the social glue to our social infrastructure. Teams who traditionally share meals (firefighters, army platoons, etc.), demonstrate higher levels of collaboration and overall well-being. When people “break bread” together, they feel closer to one another, and trust is solidified.

We spend more time with our coworkers than with our own families. So, wouldn’t it be ideal to intentionally design an environment that inspires colleagues to get to know one another— perhaps the workplace equivalent of the family dinner? The constant push to be more productive has created a culture where over 50% of workers eat lunch alone at their desks while working. Lunch al fresco? More like lunch al-desko. Something quick and easy is prioritized over enjoyment, nutrition, or satiety. Encouraging employees to step away from their desks and take a break from work to connect with their colleagues helps fights fatigue, depression, and burnout. Sharing a meal increases happiness and job satisfaction, creating a more focused and engaged workforce. Enter: CollaborEATs.

CollaborEATs is a theoretical recipe designed to transform work-life integration by encouraging colleagues to prepare and share meals together. It restructures how we work to fulfill the basic human need for connection. It is a place where we can gather to work together, build new relationships, and reinforce existing ones. The Harvard Business Review states that “although serendipity plays a role in collaboration, devoting space, time, and resources to communal eating may be more effective.” It can break down barriers amongst coworkers, which can inspire dialogue and spark new ideas that otherwise might not occur. The office and hybrid work are here to stay. CollaborEATs moves the workplace forward by taking a step back— creating an environment where a sense of community is strengthened through the power of sharing a meal.

Here’s what our jurors had to say about SLAM Collaborative’s submission:

  • “I’m a believer in using food and community to bring people together. This is well designed and easy to deploy.”
  • “This addresses the opportunities to get together face-to-face that we have been missing since the pandemic! This is a great solution to get to know people because you really do get to know people over food.”

Special thanks to our 2022 Innovative Brand Partners:


Special thanks to our NEW 2022 Scholarship Sponsor:

Thank you to our 2022 Market Partners:

Workplace Evolutionaries (WE) • Allwork.Space • IFMA Foundation • ASID • ACT • CIDQ • BIFMA • GCUC

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