24th Nov 2023

Catering For Culture: How Food Can Transform and Reconnect Our Workspaces

As leaders in the ever-changing landscape of today’s work environment, you’ll know that understanding the subtle nuances that shape our teams’ morale and productivity is crucial.

Here, we’ll delve into how the simple act of sharing a meal can counteract disconnection in our workplaces, particularly key in the context of hybrid working’s uncertainties.

By rethinking office catering with a focus on community and collaboration, you can unlock new ways to ignite a vibrant, inclusive, and connected office culture.

Let’s explore how the right culinary strategy can be key in nurturing a connected culture, essential for a thriving workplace.

 

A modern office dining experience with seats and a coffee station

 

The Big Office Challenge – Cultural Disconnection

There is a significant challenge companies and organisations are facing within their modern workplaces: a growing sense of cultural disconnection. Whether it be through the flexibility of working from home for three days of the week, or, on the other side of the spectrum – a mandate to be in the office full-time, employees are feeling less connected to their companies than ever before. 

Let’s take the notion of hybrid working for example. This model, while lauded for its freedom, inadvertently risks weakening the unity and shared sense of purpose that bind teams and organisations together.

Employees – especially those at the start of their career – navigating the divide between home and office work, often find themselves feeling more like isolated units than integral parts of a cohesive team, leading to a dilution of the communal bonds that are vital for fostering innovation and a sense of belonging.

On the other hand, employees used to the fluidity of working from home a couple of days a week, who now have to be in the office five days a week, are struggling to adapt to a work life with less flexibility; which can lead to friction and disengagement in the office.

Commenting on a New York Times article by Kim Severson, Jennifer A. Chatman, associate dean for academic affairs at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley said, “Companies that aren’t paying attention are likely to suffer.”

“Smart leaders know that informal interaction can keep corporate culture from eroding as remote work persists, and may be the main purpose for coming to the office in the future,” Chatman confirms.

The great news is, it’s not a one-way street; this shift in work culture also opens doors for creative reinvention and enhancement of the office environment.

 

A Vision for a Modern, Reintegrated Office Culture

Today’s office is more than a workspace; it’s a hub for collaboration and innovation. Employees now expect more than just a desk; they seek a sense of belonging and an environment that supports well-being and collaboration. This evolution emphasises shared experiences, especially around meals.

Communal dining has emerged as a key ingredient in the recipe for a modern office culture. It’s not just about refuelling bodies; it’s about enriching relationships and encouraging community spirit.

A delicious meal can do wonders: it can turn a regular lunch break into an opportunity for team members to bond, exchange ideas, and feel valued. It’s about creating an environment where the dining area becomes a place of relaxation, an environment for engagement, and the space to connect.

Take it from Andrew Montesano, the North America food programming and operations manager at LinkedIn, who underscores the growing demand for quality and purpose in office dining experiences: “Free pizza isn’t enough anymore.” 

By elevating the office dining experience, businesses aren’t just feeding their teams; they’re nurturing the very essence of collaboration and camaraderie.

“Feeling thankful for our amazing catering service from Fooditude who never fails to stuff our bellies with responsibly sourced, cooked from scratch, flavorful deliciousness 🤗”

, Head of People, EMEA Samsara


Productivity, Job Satisfaction and Taking a Break

A recent Forbes article emphasises the benefits of taking lunch breaks, linking them to increased productivity and job satisfaction. 

“New research shows the key to optimising a company’s function isn’t working by the light of the full moon—it’s refuelling during waking hours with the help of lunch. Encouraging employees to pause and enjoy a midday meal can make office professionals more productive, energetic and creative,” says Dilip Rao, the CEO and Co-Founder of Sharebite.

It isn’t just about taking a break; it’s about what happens during these breaks. When colleagues gather around a table, share stories, and enjoy a meal together, it strengthens team bonds, encourages informal networking, and can even be the breeding ground for innovative ideas.

From the words of Rao, “Cultivating a culture that feeds its employees can make an entire company stronger.”

 

Adapting Your Office Culture to Create a Happy Workplace

So, it’s confirmed! In the pursuit of a happier, more dynamic workplace, shared meals emerge as a cornerstone.


Why not consider this for your office?

Why not shake up your office culture with some of Fooditude’s innovative approaches? Consider these ideas:

 

Themed Lunch Days: Celebrate the culinary diversity of your team with themed lunch days. From Italian feasts to Southeast Asian street food, introduce a variety of global flavours that spark engaging conversations and cultural exchange.

Snack and Coffee Stations: Set up gourmet snack and coffee stations where employees can grab a quick, quality pick-me-up. These stations can be stocked with a variety of healthy snacks and artisanal coffee, offering a delightful break from work.

Dessert Bars: Create a dessert bar for special occasions or as a weekly treat, featuring a selection of sweet treats and baked goods.

Interactive ‘Build-Your-Own’ Stations: Turn lunchtime into an interactive experience with ‘build-your-own’ stations. Whether it’s customising salads, sandwiches, or tacos, these stations add an element of creativity and fun to meal times.

 

Build your own salad bar

 

By adapting office culture to incorporate dining experiences, you’re not just eating; you’re building a community. It’s an investment in employee well-being and, in turn, the overall health of the organisation. 

When it comes down to brass tacks – Food, in all its simplicity, becomes a powerful mechanism in creating a happier, more connected, and productive workplace.

 

Busting Myths about Catering for the Office

In the realm of office culture, there exist several myths surrounding the role and impact of office catering. These misconceptions often downplay the significant role that food and communal dining play in shaping the workplace environment. 

It’s crucial to debunk these myths to understand the true value of catering services like Fooditude, which go beyond just providing meals.

 

Myth 1: Office Catering is Merely About Food

The common misconception is that office catering is just a basic necessity, a means to feed employees. However, the reality is far richer. Our approach for example, illustrates that office catering is about creating enriching experiences that extend beyond the plate.


Myth 2: Office Catering Doesn’t Significantly Impact Company Culture

Many believe that office catering has little effect on company culture, but this is far from the truth. The way a company approaches meals is a reflection of its values and can profoundly influence its culture. 

For instance, companies like Google have been known to invest heavily in communal dining experiences, recognising that shared meals are a powerful tool for building a cohesive and inclusive company culture.

 

Myth 3: All Catering Companies Offer Uniform Menus

There’s a notion that office catering is monotonous, with little variation in menu offerings. Contrary to this belief, Fooditude exemplifies how catering can be diverse and exciting. Read on a little more and you’ll see why.

 

Beyond Just Food – The Fooditude Difference

So, now you’re sold on food as an important bridge to close the gap of cultural disconnection. But, where do you go from there? It’s time to rethink what office catering really means. It’s not just a routine service for sustenance; it’s a key player in shaping the workplace atmosphere, well for us at Fooditude anyway. 

Here are just a few of the ways we like to help inspire a great office culture through food:

 

Diverse & Seasonal Menus:

Our dedication to creating fresh, cooked-from-scratch meals is just the start. Each dish is a testament to our passion for quality, a promise that every bite is as delightful as it is nourishing.

By preparing meals daily in our central kitchen, we ensure a level of freshness and taste that pre-packaged or processed options cannot match. 

We also cater to a broad spectrum of dietary needs and preferences. In today’s diverse workforce, accommodating different dietary requirements — be it vegan, gluten-free, or allergy-specific — is crucial.

But it’s not just about tantalising taste buds. Our inclusive menus are designed to embrace the diverse palates of people, ensuring everyone at the table finds something to relish. On a regular basis, our menus feature a variety of dishes from around the world, providing a taste of different cultures and cuisines right in the office.

This inclusivity is more than a service; it’s a statement of our respect and commitment to every individual we serve.

Moreover, our menus are as dynamic as they are diverse, changing seasonally (a 4-week menu cycle that runs for three months) and offering daily variations. Employees can conveniently explore these ever-evolving options online, ensuring they always have something new and exciting to look forward to at meal times. Check out this week’s menu.


Creating A Global Experience:

We love to celebrate world events with special menus, embracing global festivities like Diwali, St Patrick’s Day, and others. These occasions are not just about the food; they are opportunities for employees to share their heritage, learn about different cultures, and come together in a festive, inclusive atmosphere.

This approach not only adds excitement to the workplace dining experience but also creates a sense of belonging and community among a culturally diverse workforce.

“Our Christmas lunch in London today was outstanding! I really wanted to have a ‘family-style’ lunch that brought the whole office together to celebrate and this is exactly what was achieved!”

Lauren Bray, Workplace Manager, Netflix 

 

Feeding the Office Fun:

The office dining experience should be as enjoyable as the food itself. For example, our office cafes are designed not just as places to eat, but as spaces to unwind, laugh, and connect. We focus on creating a lively, happy environment where employees can chill and take a break. 

This approach transforms lunch breaks into an anticipated part of the day. It’s our way of adding a dash of joy to the daily work routine.

 

The Recipe for Success

As we wrap up this culinary tour, it’s clear that offering food at the office is more than just a catering service, it’s a cultural experience. So, why not spice up your office life with Fooditude’s innovative approach to office dining? 

Reach out to us and let’s help you turn every meal into a memorable, team-building experience. Remember, it’s not just about eating; it’s about enriching relationships and strengthening community spirit, one bite at a time.

Contact us today!

Published by James Ricketts

Fooditude