Whether with friends or family, eating together creates a social bind. But somehow, many workplaces have missed a trick in creating a sense of unity with food. Instead, companies should embrace shared office meals to boost their employees’ wellbeing, teamwork and sense of belonging.
Employees might occasionally be treated to an office party, a restaurant outing or pizza. These are all great things to foster a feel-good feeling amongst colleagues, but their effects are limited because they do not offer opportunities for regular daily interactions.
Why regular shared meals work wonders
What everyday shared meals bring to the table that one-off events do not, is the normalisation of team social interactions. Moments sitting around the canteen table for a workplace meal give employees a chance to let their guard down, share their stories and create lasting connections.
Workplace mealtimes encourage employees to share their ideas within their teams. Whereas some employees might shy away from opening up within the rigid structure of team meetings, they have a chance to express what’s on their minds during the more informal setting of lunchtime. The office canteen can become a space where employees feel heard within their teams.
The proof is in the pudding (and the data)
London workplaces are lonelier than you might think. A 2021 survey by Wildgoose asked employees from 1,052 companies across the UK about their happiness and friendships at work. Three of their findings were especially interesting to us:
- People prioritise satisfaction over salary
- London has some of the UK’s loneliest employees (47% don’t have a workplace buddy)
- People prefer in-person activities over virtual ones (a.k.a, no more virtual wine and cheese evenings, please)
This survey emphasises loud and clear that companies need to do more to make their workplaces more social. Of course, how that is done is up to the workplace professionals. But investing in quality food service effectively transforms company culture.
No longer will employees have to face yesterday’s dinner from Tupperware or supermarket meal deals alone at their desks or in the corner of the canteen. Instead, we’ve seen with our own eyes that when employees share delicious food from the same buffet, they eat in larger, happier, more talkative groups.
Wellbeing and hybrid working
Whilst some employees feel happier with direct human interaction in the workplace, others may feel more settled working within their home environments. Whatever an employee’s preference, making their in-office days as pleasant and sociable as possible is always beneficial. With so many of the UK’s workforce discovering the joys of a good home-cooked lunch whilst working from home, the lack of decent food in the workplace can remove the attraction of office work.
When workplaces serve meals that make their employees happy, people savour their breaks, making the commute more worthwhile. After a few days of working in isolation, a proper lunch at the canteen with colleagues establishes a much-needed sense of belonging. Employees feel more at ease, energised, and better connected when they feel looked after. This lays the foundation for a workplace focused on wellbeing.
The icing on the cake
Office catering is often uninspiring and sub-par to the quality of food found in restaurants, cafes and delis on the high street, a.k.a the other choice for a workplace meal. However, employees vote with their feet, so if your canteen is half full or lacks a social buzz, it may be time to explore other foodservice options. Find a caterer to make your canteen a joyful experience for your teams.
One way to ensure that you create an office canteen environment where colleagues share mealtimes is to offer food *drum roll* on the house with delivered-in catering. We’ve experienced how a free buffet can bring an office canteen to life.
Got concerns about cost?
A free-service office canteen means you cut the expense of dealing with an onsite kitchen. Also, when you consider the expense of running a food service, subsided meals don’t do much to cover the costs. Plus, without a large kitchen, you get extra room from where your kitchen used to be. The new space can be converted into an extra break-out space where employees can hang out together.
If you’re curious to find out how delivered catering can work to make your canteen a social and happy place: look no further! Let us show you how it’s done, and get in touch. Email us at [email protected]