At the beginning of the year, we took tentative steps into the post-pandemic workplace. A lot had changed - fewer hugs and a lot more Zoom calls. But now that we feel that bit more secure under foot, isn't it time we started taking some strides forward into the future of work? Could fresh, flexible food fix a lot of what's broken? We think so.
1. Our wellbeing is everything.
No doubt the biggest lesson learned from the pandemic. Our health isn’t a luxury, it’s a priority. A priority that needs to be taken seriously not only on a personal level, but a business level too. And with obesity affecting 60% of adults in the UK, the food we’re eating has a lot to say for itself.
When we’re swamped with work, it’s all too tempting to sustain ourselves on quick-fix salty snacks, especially if that’s all that’s available from the nearby vending machine. Making fresh, healthy food convenient and accessible is the key to improving our wellbeing. Something Google cofounder Sergey Brin realised when he instructed office architects that “no one should be more than 200 feet away from food.” Google has 1,300 “micro kitchens” located within its 70+ offices around the world, fuelling teams on falafel, dried seaweed and kombucha. Why? Because healthy food makes us feel good and gives us focus.
2. We crave connection and a collective purpose.
The lockdown, by nature, isolated us from one another. 24% of adults in the UK said they experienced loneliness during the pandemic - record rates that prove our inherent need for community and togetherness. What all that time on our own did gift us with, was time to think. Asking the questions “do I care about the work I’m doing?”, “what’s my purpose?”. Work is what defines us, where we’re surrounded by like-minded people on a shared mission, so it needs to foster that feeling of community.
Etsy understands the importance of this. Twice weekly they gather colleagues round long tables for a communal, family-style lunch - a programme they call “Eatsy”. Eatsy offers a fun, relaxed opportunity to brainstorm, bond and share ideas. Described on their website as
“much more than a lunch break. Our company-wide meal programme is another opportunity to practice our values with an initiative that strengthens the ties between our food systems, our communities and each other.”
3. Talent is on the move - employee experience is vital.
“Flexible” - a word expected a mention on every job description from now onwards. Innovations in technology allow us to be active and present in the majority of workplace activities, while being stationed in a cafe on the other side of the world. This obviously brings its benefits - flexibility and freedom - for employees and businesses alike. However, it does grant employees that extra bargaining power. Employers need to be thinking about how to retain talent in this increasingly remote world.
McKinsey’s insights point to the answer - prioritising employee experience. This report asserts that companies must invest in relationships, social cohesion and culture to rebuild the solidarity and sense of belonging eroded by the pandemic. It suggests that leaders should be looking to seed shared experiences into the company calendar, investing in the space and resource required to spark connection and conversation.
4. The office has the opportunity to re-invent itself. It should be a fun, healthy and engaging environment.
Hybrid working is here to stay, warmly adopted by workers benefiting from less time spent commuting, more freedom to juggle personal responsibilities and the peace and quiet to concentrate on deep-work. With less life circulating the office space, empty seats have left business locations feeling sad and stagnant. Not a conducive environment for efficient, creative work.
So, companies have a real opportunity to re-imagine how the office is used; a space that encapsulates everything that employees don’t benefit from when they work from home. A welcoming destination for collaboration and connection, a hub for socialising, teaching, learning and being.
CEO of ezCater, Stefania Mallett, says that food offers itself as a great tool to:
“reconnect with each other … with so many offices still doing remote hybrid structures where employees don’t have to go in every day, when they are together, there is a certain creativity and cross-pollination you don’t get when working remotely.”
And with 65% of respondents to a recent Forbes survey sharing that they would “plan to work on-site based on complimentary lunches offered” - maybe it encapsulates the perfect incentive, one that enhances our wellbeing, sense of shared purpose and loyalty.
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Our workplace food solutions.
At CANTEEN, we offer simple, adorable and flexible food solutions to meet your needs. Whether you’re looking to encourage community back to the office, or want to keep your remote employees feeling part of the team, we’ve got you covered. Currently delivering to businesses in Edinburgh. Get in touch.