Is Food The Key to a Successful Office Re-Opening?

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As working from home became the norm at the onset of the pandemic, office employees traded their in-person meetings and conferences for virtual events over Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams. Now, as Covid-19 cases decline and mask mandates and safety precautions ease, organizations are exploring what the “new normal” looks like.

Hybrid schedules and the option to work remotely have given employees a new perspective on how and where they can do their job. After all, losing an hour-long commute or gaining extra time with family are positive changes to someone’s work day. While some team members may be eager to head back into the office full-time, others may feel like working from home just suits their life better these days. When staffers had to quickly move from their office to their home in 2020, we all realized just how many jobs could be done successfully regardless of where they were located. If an employee can make a living working from their living room couch, what would motivate them to rejoin the 9-to-5?

Individually boxed lunch eating meal at desk

Setting the Table for In-Office Work

Anyone who has experienced a slow internet connection, a coworker who doesn’t know how to mute themselves when having to deal with a needy kid during a phone call, or a boss who doesn’t understand how to silence notifications, knows that virtual communications are not a perfect replacement for a traditional in-office experience.

The spontaneity is lost, for starters. Virtual offices require coordination of schedules and technology (along with shoving the pets off of a lap or finding a quiet place with a “nice” background.) While tools like Slack and Discord offer a way for team members to communicate when needed, nothing replaces swinging by a team member’s desk, chatting in the hallways, or catching up with a coworker in the lunchroom.

While virtual team building and connections are possible, humans are just wired for live, in-person interaction. Body language and nonverbal cues are tough in an online setting. While someone might take a quick glance at their phone messages during an in-person meeting with a colleague, at home they might be more inclined to scroll through Instagram. It’s hard to build a relationship with another human when you are only getting a fraction of their attention - if that staffer is working remotely they are also likely being pulled away not just by their device, but also their kids, the laundry, or an Amazon delivery driver knocking at their front door. 

It’s also easier for managers to provide a healthy work-life balance for employees when their office is not their home. The lines between work time and home time are often blurred, as virtual team members deal with household demands during office hours and work projects spill into personal time on evenings and weekends. Having a physical space and a set schedule dedicated to work and a place and time specifically for home life gives most employees a chance to focus, disconnect and recharge.

co-workers eating lunch together while working during an office meeting

Taking a Bite Out of In-Person Work

While the benefits of in-office work exist, there are also those who have enjoyed the flexibility that some companies have been able to extend to them over the last two years. Whether that means moving a start time to pick up a child from daycare or a hybrid work situation to ease the number of people inside the building all at once, going back to a 40-hour workweek in an office could be a jarring shift for some. Employees may no longer have a regular desk as more companies transition to open office concepts, often called “hot desks.” They might also be working alongside people they hadn’t met in real life before and are now discovering that their work habits (i.e. playing music a bit too loud) don’t quite mesh.

Motivating reluctant team members to come back into the office (at least a few days a week) may require more ingenuity and creative solutions by management. The labor shortage has given employees new options that they didn’t have before the pandemic. Don’t want to work in an office in 2019? Quit, and good luck finding another job that offers remote work. Don’t want to work in an office in 2022? Find one of many companies that now do and also offer generous signing bonuses and cash incentives. Many employees have their pick of employers in the current market and can negotiate a flexible arrangement that best suits their needs.

Employee eating lunch at desk with computer and boxed meal

Deliver Your Staff’s Motivation with Delicious Food Choices

It’s been said that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” but many organizations have discovered that offering on-site catered food is the key to enticing their staff out of their homes and into the office. Workers can avoid spending precious minutes standing in long lines in the short-staffed walk-up window of their local food cart, or spending more at the pump to drive to the nearest cafe for a quick bite to-go. Plus, studies show that spending time together over a meal remains a top activity because it builds meaningful connections and positive team culture - ultimately enhancing productivity and creating happier employees. We even wrote about that concept back in 2019.

Providing food on-site is no easy mission in 2022, however. Gone are the days of the all-you-can-eat buffet and endless course options in the office cafeteria. Managers and executives may not be able to predict just how many staff members may be working from the building on a given day as they embrace a more flexible hybrid model. This makes it hard to predict food orders while avoiding waste and unnecessary overhead. Luckily, it’s easy in Portland for companies to give their teams an on-site, safe, and connected food experience - and they don’t even have to leave the building.

Co-workers talking over a delivered meal inside the office

That’s where Spork Bytes comes in. Working with an office catering and food delivery service like Spork Bytes ensures that your staff gets just the right amount of delicious, personalized options to keep them motivated at the office without wasting time, money, food, or supplies. We work with over 50 local restaurants to bring the best tastes of Portland safely to your office

Plus, your admin team can avoid impersonal 3rd-party national delivery options. Collaborating with Spork Bytes means we’ll help you find and choose a top local eatery within your budget and we’ll help make sure that each employee’s personal preferences and dietary needs are met.

Your staff has been through a lot of change these last two years. We want to make it easier for you to show your team how much you appreciate their dedication and productivity. We also want to help enhance your in-office experience and remind them why they enjoy being part of your work family. Spork Bytes can help reward your teams at your next early morning meeting by setting up a tasty spread of donuts from Delicious Donuts and coffee from Portland Roasting Company. We can deliver delicious individually boxed lunches from Lechon, Reverend’s BBQ, or any other of Portland’s tastiest eateries. If you’re planning a special day to welcome your teams back to the office, our client concierge would love to help you plan your next event. Contact us today to select a mouthwatering spread for your team!

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