Nov 21, 2016
Nov 9, 2023

Office Hack #35 — The Atlantic’s Lunch Button

Today’s office hack makes getting lunch dead easy, almost too easy.
Envoy Author
Office Hack #35 — The Atlantic’s Lunch Button

Envoy is all about making things easier and more fun in the office. In that spirit, we are proud to bring you our new Envoy Office Hacks podcast series. Every week, we deliver the coolest, most ingenious, and just plain fun fixes people have invented to improve efficiency and productivity in their workplace.

It is not terribly outrageous to lose an hour of a workday to lunch. What is outrageous is losing this time just trying to get lunch.

We get it. Popular places are worth the wait. But sometimes, no matter how delicious that roasted pork sandwich might be, the lost productivity is too great a sacrifice.

Today’s Office Hack makes getting lunch dead easy, almost too easy. The only work-time you’ll chew up, will be slathered in chipotle mayo.

Andrew McGill works as a senior associate editor at The Atlantic magazine out of Washington, D.C.. The Atlantic happens to be situated in the Foggy Bottom neighbourhood in Washington, D.C., an area with very few decent lunch spots. So Andrew says it’s always a bit of a hike to get somewhere good, and then you still need to order and wait for your food.

Andrew wondered if an Amazon dash button could become his instant-lunch-ordering button, so he started to tinker. He chose a restaurant that specialized in delicious salads (his favourite place: sweetgreen). What he managed to hack together was a one-touch button ordering system that also charged his credit card in the process.

There were a few misfires along the way, like when he ended up getting orders that weren’t what he wanted at all, or when he would hit the button by mistake.

“I think there was one time that I ordered five salads. My co-workers think I’m a little crazy.” Andrew McGill, The Atlantic

Andrew soon bolted the button to the underside of his desk to ensure no accidental orders. Now, when it’s lunch time, he simply clicks the button, and a salad is whipped up, paid, waiting for him on a shelf. No time wasted.

You might think Andrew would grow sick of ordering the same thing day in, day out, but he considered that when hacking this together. His ordering system randomly chooses between one of three different salads. He never knows which of the three he’s getting until he goes to pick it up.

Possibly the best part of this hack? His colleagues think he’s genius.

“It’s very impressive. I don’t know how it works but it produces salads.” Marina Koren, The Atlantic ### How to hack it

If you too desire one-click lunch ordering, here’s what you’ll need:


  • AWS IoT Button — $19.95
  • A nearby restaurant that facilitates online ordering


  • Use Amazon’s web portal to upload your code
  • Connect it to your button’s ID number
  • When the button is connected to wi-fi, it’ll run your code when clicked
  • Andrew used NodeJS, which has an HTTP client library called Request
  • Use Request to hook up to a restaurant-of-your-choice’s server

Listen & Subscribe

You can listen to the full story in the Envoy Office Hacks podcast. Please subscribe to the podcast in iTunes — just click here and hit ‘subscribe’.

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Envoy Author
Envoy Author

This post was written by one of the many writers at Envoy who are passionate about helping educate and inspire workplace leaders. We cover everything from the visitor and employee experience, to space and delivery management, to the workplace tech-stack that keeps it all running.

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