How have our food habits changed in the workplace post lockdown?

May 5, 2022

COVID19 hasn’t necessarily changed what people want to eat but in many cases, it has changed how they go about eating it and this is particularly true in the workplace.

This has made it more challenging for employers to run traditional catering facilities such as canteens and as a result, many employers have had to review their options, with a need to give workers more choice and freedom then before as they try and encourage staff back to the workplace.

Going out for lunch isn’t as easy as it once was

In some workplaces, employers only provided minimal catering facilities because most employees just went out to lunch. Those days might not be over forever but for practical purposes, they are largely over for now.

In today’s workplace, employers are starting to see that traditional canteens and kitchen facilities aren’t a practical option, mostly due to staffing, limited space or budget. A better alternative to a canteen would be to install a ‘micro market’; a flexible food hub which allows for far more options than snack based vending machines.

Micro markets can be stocked with a variety of options such as hot food, microwave meals or even our ‘heat and go’ range which includes Jake and Nayns burritos, bringing high street dining options into the workplace.

For companies that require fresh produce, many are turning towards fresh food deliveries to give their staff the benefits of fresh daily food, but without the hassle of running traditional kitchen facilities. From office buffets, fresh fruit and daily milk deliveries, businesses can now keep their food options well stocked at the click of a button through an advanced online ordering system.

Flexible working looks set to stay

Some jobs still require people to be on-site all the time. Most jobs, however, allow for at least some flexibility. It remains to be seen how much work will go fully remote. By contrast, it’s clear that hybrid working is here to stay and workers are steadily moving away from the traditional 9-5 cycle.

This means that established solutions like canteens and kitchenettes are becoming less and less viable. Canteens generally require a fairly high employee head-count to be viable. They also need the number of customers to be at least reasonably predictable. Neither of these conditions is likely to be met by flexible working.

This is where micro market hubs are becoming the preferred choice. These hubs are unattended, cashless and self-service so they are open all day, every day and offer a variety of refreshment options for everyone to enjoy, regardless of working patterns.

Employers need to tempt staff back

Recruitment and retention have always been a challenge for employers. Arguably, the challenge is higher now than ever before.

Fortunately, many employees, including skilled ones, consider a lot more than money when deciding who they want to work for. Working conditions are often at least as important. This means that employers who want staff to come on-site need to ensure that their workplace is an attractive place to be.

Part of this means ensuring that all staff can get well fed whenever they want to eat. Instead of just providing lunches, staff want a wide choice of refreshments available 24/7. Snacks are still important and many employees appreciate being offered healthy choices like fresh fruit as well as sweet treats.

On their own, however, snacks are not enough. There also needs to be enough variety to cover all tastes and dietary needs/preferences. Employees also need to be hydrated and caffeinated. In fact, high-quality barista-style coffee can be one of the best perks an employer can offer.

It’s clear that workplace food is about much more than just refreshment, it can make-or-break the social culture of a workplace and could be the difference between employees staying or seeking work elsewhere. A great breakout space with varied refreshment options is key to building a strong workplace culture that boosts moral and staff wellbeing and micro markets offer just that.

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