The New Three-Martini Lunch: Walk and Talk

We’ve all heard of the power lunch, the time-honored office custom in which Important People break bread and decide Important Things. Or the company golf outing, a tradition known to bind rank-and-file employees and executives alike.

But, as old-school business rituals go, neither the power lunch nor the golf outing attract the same level of retro-infused reverie as the three-martini lunch. Served with or without a slab of red meat, the noon-hour cocktail trio has been romanticized everywhere from Mad Men to The New York Times.

For most of us, the three-martini lunch is a thing of the past (a change our doctors and company efficiency gurus would likely agree was for the best). Still, we’re left wondering, what has taken its place?

The answer, an increasing number of white-collar workers have found, is simple: the after-lunch walk. It’s an idea that — pardon the pun — is picking up speed, with business-news outlets in the United States and abroad reporting the benefits of these so-called “walking meetings.” It’s even been the subject of a TED Talk.

You don’t need a medical license to understand why a sensible lunch and a little physical activity is healthier than tripling up on the martinis. There are, however, a few additional benefits that have little to do with your cholesterol or waistline:

  • Different scenery, different ideas: Even if you have the most pleasant workspace imaginable, spending eight hours a day in the same spot doesn’t exactly do wonders for your creativity. Gathering a co-worker or two for a quick bite and a walk outside in fresh surroundings is a great way to foster informal brainstorming and fresh ideas.
  • New faces: How many people do you know outside your team? If you work for a major corporation with thousands of employees, chances are you encounter people you don’t recognize on a daily basis. The more time you spend walking around your company’s campus, the more faces you will eventually recognize. Strike up a conversation; you may learn more about your organization and even make a new lunch buddy.
  • Hidden gems: Not only can a lunchtime constitutional help you get to know the people you work with, it can also help you discover the neighborhood where you work. Try to take a slightly different route each day, unaided by GPS or other digital helpers. You may find your new favorite lunch spot or coffee shop.

There will always be those who long to bring back the days of boozy, hours-long lunches, arguing that it created a safe space unbridled by “minions and protégés” and “conference room etiquette.”

Some of this is undoubtedly true, but as one journalist found when he attempted his own Mad Men-inspired diet, perhaps the three-martini lunch is best left in the history books. After all, you do eventually have to get back to work.

Photo credit: Pero Kvrzica via: Flickr

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