Brown Bag Lunches at Work: Create a Learning Environment

Brown bag lunches are ideal for informal training. With a “brown bag lunch,” employees bring their own lunches to sessions. They can help employees learn in a relaxed, encouraging environment. 

Learn more about brown bag lunches and how to host one in this article.


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Tips for brown bags lunches

Here are some helpful tips to make your brown bag lunch successful:

  • Get approval from stakeholders. Make sure your managers approve of your brown bag lunch before you plan. Confirm time, resources, schedule and budget for the meeting to ensure approval.
  • Choose engaging, relevant topics. Skills or topics that employees can apply in their daily lives are often most successful.
  • Serve snacks or beverages. They’re always appreciated and give employees another incentive for attending.
  • Schedule in advance. This allows employees to make time for the session and will boost attendance.
  • Choose the appropriate venue.  There should be ample space for attendees, equipment and activities.
  • Record learning. Record the session, so even employees who cannot attend can benefit from the learning.
  • Ensure the event is well promoted. Use flyers or send a group email to inform employees of the time, location and topic. 
  • Ask employees to participate. Ask experienced employees to give brief, casual presentations on skills or interests. 

Examples of great brown bag sessions

While brown bag sessions are relaxed and informal, they can also be just as effective as other types of training and development sessions. Many types of training can be successfully incorporated into brown bag lunches, including:



Cross-training teaches employees functions that they may not perform normally. It can increase efficiency and expose employees to useful skills they can use for career growth. An example of cross-training would be showing a receptionist how to create and send invoices to help your accounting department.


Product training

To make a product more successful, ensure all employees have a thorough understanding of it. Employees should know its functions, basic specifications, and how the product can help customers. Brown bag lunches are a perfect way to introduce new products.


Professional development

Brown bag sessions are great for knowledge sharing between departments. For example, developers might teach the rest of your employees how to write basic code. This can help employees discover new talents and interests, boost morale and increase engagement and help them learn about different aspects of the company.  


Work life balance skills

Brown bag sessions are perfect for promoting work life balance. You might invite a life coach to give tips on stress reduction, or a yoga instructor to teach basic meditation and deep breathing techniques. Offering helpful seminars on wellbeing can make employees feel cared about and valued.


Last thoughts on brown bag lunches

Brown bag lunches generally get a positive reception from employees, because they offer a break from daily routines. Holding them in the workplace helps employees view work differently. They can help improve employee morale, which is very beneficial to any organization.


Kick off a brown bag lunch initiative with a general topic that might interest most of your employees and gather feedback afterward. Use the feedback to plan future sessions that engage more team members. 


Brown bag lunch FAQs

Here are some common questions about brown bag lunches:


Who can organize brown bag lunches?

Employers or managers usually plan brown bag lunches, but enthusiastic employees can be great at organizing and giving them too.


How long should a brown bag lunch last?

It’s usually best to keep brown bag lunches under 90 minutes to keep employees interested.


Where are brown bag lunches held?

Conduct a brown bag lunch in a space large enough to accommodate all of your employees and where the host can execute activities.


Who can attend a brown bag lunch?

Depending on the topic, brown bag lunches are suitable for all employees or specific departments. 


What is discussed during brown bag lunches?

Topics are determined by facilitators. They can vary from general to work-related skills and development.



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