06th Dec 2023

Catering for Culture: How A Shared Dining Experience Can Unify Your Workplace

The office isn’t just a place to work anymore – it’s becoming a space where people’s overall well-being matters. These days, people are looking for companies that care about them, not just as employees, but as people too. This means businesses are thinking hard about how to make their offices more welcoming and supportive.

It’s not enough to just provide a paycheck at the end of the month; people want to feel like they’re part of something, to feel really at home with their team. That’s why sharing moments, like lunchtime, is getting more attention.

However, a shared meal at the office is about more than just eating – it’s a chance to chat, laugh, and really connect with coworkers. A nice dining area can turn a simple lunch break into a time everyone looks forward to, helping to bring the whole team together. This is where Fooditude steps in, turning the everyday office café into a cosy spot for everyone to gather.

 

Introducing Alex Ciuca

 

A Fooditude Catering Manager

 

Alex Ciuca is Fooditude’s resident shared dining expert, steering the course towards a more holistic and engaging approach to office dining.

With nine years’ experience in hospitality and a special flair for office catering, he leads the charge as the General Manager for one of our biggest clients. His journey, starting from the buzzing tech scene in London to joining us in 2023, reflects a passion for transforming office meals into memorable dining experiences.

Join us as Alex shares his secrets on sprucing up office dining. He’ll chat about how the right tables and chairs can make lunchtime more fun and social, and why the way food looks on your plate matters more than you think. 

He knows that these little things create a big difference in making everyone feel welcome and happy at work. So, let’s dive in and see how simple changes in the lunchroom can really brighten up a day at the office!

 

Modern office canteen enviroment

 

The Impact of Dining Areas on The Employee Experience

It’s well documented that the concept of shared dining plays a significant role in shaping company culture, creating a great vibe at work. The dining room or café as we like to call it, becomes more than just a place to eat; it transforms into a social hub where employees from different departments and levels can interact informally. 

But, there’s a lot more to the dining area than just eating. The way it’s set up can really show what the company cares about. For instance, a space that prioritises comfort and aesthetic appeal can demonstrate a company’s commitment to employee well-being.

 

How to Create a Great Dining Space in Your Office

In a New York Times article about the era of the corporate cafeteria, Kim Severson shares some interesting ideas on what companies are now doing in terms of their dining offering

“Some companies are installing cocktail bars, or hosting sunset oyster-shucking parties to help employees relax and socialise after work. The large dining halls at tech giants are being divided into smaller, more homey spaces flexible enough to feed a workforce whose size changes drastically day to day.”

Similarly, Alex thinks that the way the dining space is set up can really change how we all get along and work together at the office. He’s got some great tips on making the space ideal for everyone, no matter who they are or what they need.

“Understanding the unique blend of personalities in an office is crucial. I often walk through office spaces, observing interactions, and gathering insights to design a dining area that’s not just functional, but a reflection of the company’s heartbeat.”

 

  • Create Quiet Zones: These spaces can be a sanctuary for introverts. Even in the office, it’s really important to respect personal space, allowing individuals to unwind and recharge in tranquillity.

  • Bring in Four-Seater Tables: Our experience shows that smaller tables, especially cosy booths, foster more intimate and meaningful discussions among team members.

Include Large Tables Too: For bigger occasions or when teams want to come together, large tables can encourage the type of energy and camaraderie that result in the lively exchanges of ideas and stories.

 

The Power of Natural Light:

Drawing on his background and understanding of behavioural psychology, Alex suggests introducing as much natural light as possible into office dining spaces. He explains that natural light not only enhances the visual appeal of the area but also plays an important role in uplifting the mood and productivity of employees.

“Look for ways to maximise natural light, such as choosing dining room locations near windows or using light, reflective colours in the décor. Making such thoughtful changes in the dining environment can create a more energising and positive space for employees to enjoy their meals and breaks.”

 

Presentation Matters:

With his clients, Alex places a strong emphasis on the power of food presentation in enhancing their office dining experience. It’s not just selecting menu items, but also carefully considering how each dish is presented to reflect the company’s culture and values.

“We spend a lot of time engaging in detailed planning sessions with clients to discuss how each dish can tell a unique story, aligning with themes like sustainability and cultural inclusivity.”

For example, Alex highlights the use of sustainable, locally-sourced ingredients as a way to showcase a company’s commitment to environmental responsibility. 

He recommends including a variety of cuisines to celebrate cultural diversity within the workforce. It’s about creating a visual and sensory experience that resonates with employees, making them feel valued and recognised.

It’s also good to look at the layout and accessibility of food displays e.g., make sure that you create an inviting and functional buffet setup that allows for easy access and encourages interaction. 

By thoughtfully arranging the food and providing clear, informative labelling, employees can not only enjoy their meals but also learn about the ingredients and the thought process behind each dish. 

Through these practices, the dining area becomes more than a place to eat; it changes into a space of discovery and appreciation for diverse tastes and values.

 

Consistent Communication:

Consistent and clear communication in the dining area can often be overlooked but is key from an educational standpoint. In your dining area, you have a great opportunity to easily convey messages about healthy eating options and food waste reduction, which can really influence employee habits and attitudes towards food.

“Look at ways to implement custom signage in your dining areas that clearly label healthy food options, where they’re sourced from, and even include some fun facts from time to time.”

 

Catering Extras for Team Bonding:

Beyond the main dining area, Alex suggests integrating elements like snack bars, coffee stations, and mini-kitchenettes. 

By jotting snack bars stocked with a variety of healthy and indulgent options around the office or in different departments, you can create informal meeting spots where employees can gather for a quick break or a casual conversation. 

Coffee stations are another element that Alex highlights for their ability to bring people together. 

“Coffee stations shouldn’t just be about the coffee; they can be designed as comfortable lounging areas where employees can relax and engage in impromptu discussions.”

It really comes down to creating multiple touchpoints for employees to connect, share, and create over food or a beverage.

 

A picture of an office coffee station with employees socialising

 

Personalised Service: The Fooditude Signature

So, you’ll see from Alex’s great advice, that we offer much more than traditional catering services here at Fooditude. Our holistic approach to catering encompasses everything from menu planning with clients and cooking for teams daily, to ensuring a great dining set-up for employees to enjoy. 

We take pride in our ability to offer a seamless, stress-free catering experience that aligns with the unique needs of each business. 

Our comprehensive service model, as highlighted by Alex, ensures minimal disruption and maximum satisfaction. This includes a meticulous focus on the presentation and quality of the food, aligning with our commitment to sustainability and culinary excellence​​.

Our service is distinguished by its personalisation and reliability. We understand that familiarity and consistency are key to building trust and a positive dining experience. 

Finally, our front-of-house team and drivers, familiar faces to our clients, play a crucial role in this, providing a reliable and enjoyable mealtime experience every day​​.

 

Creating an immersive dining experience

In choosing Fooditude as your catering partner, you’re investing in more than just a catering service. We embrace a vision that goes beyond the plate – a vision of a workplace where dining is a cornerstone of company culture. 

As we continue to innovate and adapt, we remain committed to being at the forefront of this cultural dynamic, redefining the role of office dining in creating a vibrant and connected workforce. 

If this is what you are looking for, let’s talk more about your office dining needs.

Published by James Ricketts

Fooditude