March 28, 2024

How to Get the Benefits of Easy Office Catering Without the Complications

Naina Nicodemus

There is no such thing as a free lunch — especially when it comes to free lunches.

Providing regular catered meals for employees has become a strategy for HR departments in organizations around the world. And there's lots of research to back it up.

McKinsey, Harvard Business Review, and Cornell University, among others, have all published studies linking communal office meals to increased productivity and innovation. This, in turn, leads to improved bottom lines and higher share prices for the company.

office meals increase productivity and innovation

Despite these clear advantages, the traditional avenues for delivering this experience have failed to meet modern expectations.

The conventional full-service corporate catering model, with its buffet-style spreads or custom menu of limited options, not only falls short of meeting the diverse needs and preferences of today's dynamic workforce but also adds hidden costs and logistical hurdles that diminish the benefits that shared meals at work are supposed to provide.

The need for an overhaul to this system has inspired Cubbi to develop an innovative approach to office catering where all the advantages of communal meals can be retained without one-dimensional choices, food waste, additional fees, and the logistical nightmares of traditional corporate catering solutions.

The Power of Food: Cultivating Connections and Enhancing Productivity

Before we get into how Cubbi is making office catering easy and effective, let's first look at what shared meals in the workplace provide.

Importance of office meal in increasing productivity

Outside of the workplace, breaking bread together has been a tried and tested means for bringing people together for centuries. The same benefits hold true in a workplace setting, where eating together has been proven to:

  • Enhance Collaboration and Teamwork: Eating together can break down formal workplace barriers and encourage informal interactions. This environment fosters relationships and facilitates better collaboration among team members, leading to improved teamwork.
  • Boost Morale and Job Satisfaction: Shared meals can serve as a recognition of employees' hard work, making them feel valued and appreciated. This recognition can significantly boost morale and job satisfaction, creating a more positive workplace atmosphere.
  • Improve Communication: Delicious team lunches allow staff to interact outside the confines of structured meetings or the formalities of workplace hierarchies. This relaxed setting promotes open communication, allowing for exchanging ideas and feedback.
  • Strengthen Company Culture: Regular communal meals can be crucial in defining and enhancing company culture. They signify a company's commitment to creating a supportive and inclusive environment, reinforcing core values and a sense of community.
  • Reduce Stress: Taking a break from work to enjoy a meal with colleagues can relieve stress. It allows workers to unwind and recharge, reducing burnout and improving mental health.
  • Attract and Retain Talent: Companies that offer food perks, such as shared lunches, are often more attractive to potential employees. This benefit can also play a significant role in retaining talent, as staff are likelier to stay with a company that invests in their well-being and fosters a sense of community.
  • Increase Productivity: With the convenience of on-site meals, workers can save time that would otherwise be spent obtaining food off-site. Additionally, the positive effects of improved morale, better health, and enhanced teamwork all contribute to increased productivity.

Shared office meals foster a more collaborative, satisfied, and productive workforce while also contributing to employees' physical well-being and strengthening the overall corporate culture.

How Does Traditional Full-Service Corporate Catering Work?

It makes sense that employers would see these benefits and try to take advantage by bringing their teams together for the occasional meal. Typically, that means contacting a catering company to provide delicious food options for a special lunch, a team meeting or a corporate event.

However, the mechanics of traditional office catering reveal a system fraught with challenges—from limited meal options to logistical burdens—that detract from the very benefits employers are trying to gain by providing meals for their staff.

Traditional workplace catering typically employs one of two methods to provide meals to staff:

  • Limited Meal Options: This method offers a predefined set of meal choices for meetings. The options are usually decided in advance by the catering service or the company's HR department, often based on budget, ease of service, and general dietary considerations.
  • Buffet-Style Platters: Buffet-style catering provides various dishes from which employees can serve themselves. This method is often used to offer something for everyone.

Both methods highlight the challenges in meeting demands for variety, flexibility, and dietary accommodation for office meals or a team lunch, not to mention the increased potential for food waste and health concerns. This gap underscores the need for a more personalized approach to catering in the workplace.

The Logistical Nightmares of Corporate Event Catering

For instance, if we look specifically at limited meal options, it involves significant planning, coordination, and resource allocation. While seemingly straightforward, this process demands careful consideration of various factors to ensure the catering meets the organization's needs and expectations.

Corporate Event Catering

Here's a breakdown of what's involved:

  • Menu Selection: Choosing a set of limited meal options that will appeal to a broad range of tastes while accommodating dietary restrictions and preferences. This involves researching and selecting dishes that are popular, versatile, and can be easily served in an office setting.
  • Budgeting: Determining the budget for catering and ensuring the selected menu options fit within this budget. Costs can vary widely based on the type of food, the caterer's pricing structure, and additional services like setup and cleanup.
  • Scheduling: Aligning the catering with the office schedule, including selecting appropriate meal delivery times that minimize disruption to the workday.
  • Vendor Selection and Communication: Finding a caterer that can provide the desired meal options within the set budget and coordinating with them to finalize the menu, delivery times, and any special instructions. This also involves negotiating contracts and terms of service.
  • Order Management: Collecting meal preferences and orders from employees, if applicable, and managing changes or special requests. This may require setting up a system for workers to submit their meal choices in advance.
  • Logistics: Coordinating the delivery, setup, and distribution of meals. This includes ensuring adequate space for the meal setup, coordinating entry and setup for caterers, and managing the distribution of meals to employees.

The result is a significant drain on resources:

  • Financial Resources: Allocating funds not only for the cost of the meals themselves but also for any additional fees related to delivery, setup, and equipment rental for corporate events.
  • Staff Resources: Assigning staff members or a team to oversee catering needs, from initial planning through execution. This may involve tasks such as communicating with the caterer, managing employee orders, and overseeing the setup and cleanup of the meal.
  • Space Resources: Ensuring the availability of appropriate spaces for meal delivery and consumption, including considerations for set up, seating, waste disposal, and clean up. This might also involve securing necessary equipment or supplies not provided by the caterer for corporate events, such as serving utensils, plates, and napkins.

Catering limited meal options for workplace events is a multifaceted process. This complexity not only drains resources but also restricts the ability to offer a diverse and satisfying meal experience to every employee, further highlighting the need for a more streamlined and flexible approach.

The Office Buffet: Generic Options, Food Waste, and Questionable Hygiene

Buffet-style corporate catering also comes with its own set of challenges. Characterized by many generic options, this method often leads to significant food waste and raises valid concerns over hygiene — especially in a post-pandemic world.

Food Waste

Buffet-style platters can significantly contribute to food waste for several reasons:

  • Over-preparation: To ensure that there is enough variety and quantity to satisfy all attendees, caterers often prepare more food than is actually consumed. This abundance, while visually appealing, can lead to a substantial amount of uneaten food.
  • Uneven Consumption: Not all items served on platters are consumed equally. Popular dishes might run out quickly, while less popular ones are barely touched, leading to waste.
  • Health and Safety Regulations: Food that has been left out for a certain period, even if not consumed, often cannot be repurposed or donated due to health and safety regulations, contributing further to waste.

Hygiene Concerns

Buffet-style settings also raise several hygiene concerns, particularly in a post-pandemic world where awareness of disease transmission through shared surfaces is heightened:

  • Shared Serving Utensils: The use of communal serving tools can be a vector for the spread of germs and viruses. As attendees serve themselves, they handle the same utensils, potentially transferring pathogens.
  • Open Food Containers: Food served on platters is often presented in open containers, exposing it to airborne contaminants and the risk of being touched by multiple people.
  • Crowding and Queuing: Buffets can lead to crowding as people line up to serve themselves, making it difficult to maintain recommended physical distancing measures. This crowding can further increase the risk of airborne transmission of illnesses.

These challenges are especially relevant to modern workplaces and stand to damage instead of benefit businesses bringing employees together for a shared meal. Now more than ever, organizations must carefully consider how these factors line up against their values, goals, and the well-being of their employees.

Where Does Catered Food Come From?

Both limited meal options and buffet-style catering often fall short in two other critical areas: quality assurance and the guarantee of local sourcing.

office buffet catering

Impersonal and mass-produced, these meals lack the caliber and nutritional value of personally prepared food from known and trusted sources, diminishing the overall dining experience.

Questionable Quality

  • Mass Production: Many corporate catering services operate on a scale that requires mass food production for events. This can sometimes compromise the quality of what's being served, as dishes are made in large quantities, potentially hours before consumption, affecting freshness and taste.
  • Standardization over Customization: To streamline their operations, caterers standardize their menus, limiting clients' ability to customize orders to address food allergies, meet specific preferences, or meet dietary needs. This can result in a one-size-fits-all approach to a team lunch that rarely aligns with individual or cultural expectations of quality.
  • Cost Constraints: Catering decisions are often budget-driven, so caterers may not prioritize superior ingredients or gourmet preparation methods for a team lunch.

Lack of Guarantee for Local Sourcing

  • Broad Supplier Networks: Large catering companies typically source their ingredients from a wide network of suppliers to maintain consistency and cost-effectiveness across their operations. This approach can make it challenging to guarantee that ingredients are locally sourced, as they may prioritize availability and price over origin.
  • Transparency Issues: There's often a lack of transparency in the supply chain of large-scale catering operations. Without clear information about ingredients, it's difficult for clients to verify if the food is locally sourced, sustainably farmed, or ethically produced.
  • Economic Considerations: Sourcing ingredients locally can be more expensive than purchasing them through national or international suppliers due to factors like small-scale production and higher transportation costs. Catering companies operating within tight budgets may, therefore, opt for non-local sources to keep costs down, even if local sourcing would better align with client values and preferences.

In both catering methods, the drive for efficiency, cost management, and the logistical demands of serving large groups often override the commitment to quality and local sourcing. This scenario underlines the need for a more tailored approach to corporate catering that aligns better with the desires for high-caliber, locally sourced meals that support community producers and offer a more satisfying dining experience.

Office Catering Made Easy, Fresh, Personal and Nutritious

Providing shared meals for employees is intended to enrich both the business and its staff, not deplete resources, generate food waste, or clash with the core values of the company.

That's why we've developed Cubbi, an innovative solution designed to enrich the office lunch experience. Cubbi reimagines office catering with an approach that's as nourishing for the workplace's corporate culture as it is for the individual, offering a seamless blend of convenience, personalization, and quality.

  • Easy, Resource-Efficient vs. Complicated, Resource-Draining: Where traditional catering often requires extensive coordination, leading to a drain on time and resources, Cubbi presents an effortlessly streamlined process. By leveraging digital platforms for easy ordering and automated logistics, Cubbi eliminates the cumbersome back-and-forth and planning woes, making office meals a delight rather than a chore.
  • Personal Choices vs. Limited Options or Single Platters: Contrasting sharply with old-school caterers' rigid, limited menus, Cubbi offers a spectrum of personalized choices. This empowers individuals to tailor their meals to their dietary preferences, allergies, or mood for the day — ensuring every employee feels considered and catered to.
  • Individually Packaged Meals vs. Wasteful Mounds of Food: Cubbi’s individually packaged portions of delicious food address the issue of waste head-on, ensuring that meals are prepared and consumed responsibly. This method reduces waste and enhances the convenience of meal consumption and disposal, aligning with sustainable practices that modern companies aspire to uphold.
  • Diverse and Nutritious vs. Potentially Contagious: In a time when health and safety have never been more critical, Cubbi’s approach ensures that meals are not just nutritious but also prepared and delivered in a manner that prioritizes well-being. By sidestepping the communal serving tools and platters of buffets, Cubbi minimizes the risks associated with contagious conditions, foodborne illnesses and cross-contamination.
  • Mixed and Matched vs. One-Size-Fits-All: Flexibility stands at the core of Cubbi’s service, offering the ability to mix and match menu items from multiple restaurants to order meals that satisfy the collective cravings of any team. This adaptability ensures that office meals remain a dynamic and engaging experience, always able to match the team’s evolving tastes and preferences.
  • Local Restaurant vs. The Unknown: Cubbi builds bridges between local restaurants and businesses, bringing transparency and community support into the corporate dining equation. This not only boosts local economies but also ensures that meals are fresh, traceable, and of the highest caliber, celebrating the local culinary scene.

Cubbi directly addresses the drawbacks of traditional models with its innovative solution. It encapsulates the essence of what office meals are meant to be: a source of nourishment, joy, and unity, effortlessly blending the convenience of technology with the warmth of community dining.

The Cost-Effectiveness of Innovative Catering Solutions

There’s a common misconception that providing employees with personalized food options instead of generic catering will be expensive. The reality is that Cubbi offers affordable, versatile, and delicious options that can fit the budgets and needs of a wide range of businesses.

Cubbi's model leverages technology and strategic partnerships to streamline the ordering, delivery, and management of office meals. This efficiency reduces the overhead costs often associated with traditional catering needs.

By cutting down on these operational expenses, Cubbi can offer its services at a cost-effective rate for any organization, including:

  • No Hidden Fees: A significant advantage of Cubbi’s model is its transparency in pricing. Unlike traditional catering, which can come with unexpected fees for service, and gratuity, Cubbi offers a clear cost structure without hidden charges. This transparency makes budgeting for office meals more predictable and manageable for companies.
  • Discounts: Cubbi provides meals at up to 50% off regular restaurant prices, a benefit made possible through its partnerships and volume discount negotiations. This discount is a game-changer for companies looking to provide great office meals without the high price tag associated with traditional caterers.

By rethinking the logistics of the team lunch, Cubbi provides a solution that aligns with the needs of modern businesses looking for cost-effective, diverse, and high-quality catering options. The elimination of delivery fees and gratuities, combined with significant discounts on meals and a commitment to supporting local businesses, makes Cubbi an attractive alternative to traditional catering.

Cubbi Provides Personalization and Choice

When businesses decide to provide catered meals for their team, they want the benefits shared meals are supposed to provide:

  • Improved corporate culture;
  • Increased collaboration
  • Enhanced productivity;
  • More innovation and
  • Ultimately, a better bottom line.

In other words, they seek the benefits that Cubbi effortlessly delivers through variety, nutrition, convenience, and alignment with corporate values.

corporate office catering

However, the traditional catering approach, with its one-size-fits-all menus and buffet-style service, needs to catch up with the evolving demands of today's dynamic workplace environments. Instead of providing benefits, such methods inadvertently lead to disengagement and dissatisfaction among employees, undermining exactly what communal meals are supposed to foster.

Our platform gets around this hurdle by offering a wide array of meal choices from local restaurants, accommodating various dietary preferences and restrictions, from gluten-free and vegan to keto and beyond. This ensures that every employee can enjoy high-quality, nutritious meals that reflect their tastes and dietary needs.

Cubbi also prioritizes sustainability and efficiency, reducing food waste through individually packaged portions and eliminating unnecessary costs associated with delivery fees and gratuities. By partnering with Cubbi, businesses not only provide a valuable perk that boosts morale and productivity but also align their team meals with broader corporate values around sustainability, community support, and employee well-being.

Discover the difference that tailored, flexible, and hassle-free meal solutions can make. Book a free tasting with Cubbi today, and discover how our innovative approach can meet the diverse needs of your workforce, making every meal count towards building a stronger, more engaged team.

Make food an employee benefit, not a hassle.

Cubbi makes it effortless for employers to provide subsidized, high-quality meals directly to the workplace.