January 12, 2024

Why Quality Food is the Secret Ingredient in a Successful Return to Office Strategy

Carter Norrish

Empty chairs at empty tables.

It's a scene that plays out in office spaces across the country.

More than a year removed from the World Health Organization lifting its public health emergency declaration related to COVID-19, employers still face challenges in compelling their staff to return to the office for in-person work.

The simple fact is that many workers have grown accustomed to the comfort and flexibility that working from home offers. This includes saving time on commutes, having a more flexible schedule, and immediate access to fresh food they don't have to prepare in advance or drive miles to wait in line to pick up.

For companies wanting to recreate a collaborative in-office environment, the challenge isn't resolved by simply issuing full return-to-office mandates requiring employees to give up remote work and come back to their workplaces. Instead of further alienating an already stressed workforce through a hardline policy, more and more companies are finding success by implementing thoughtful, employee-centric strategies.

These strategies include flexible working hours, hybrid working arrangements, enhanced workplace amenities, and notably, offering enticing food perks.

Why Food Perks?

By providing high-quality, convenient dining options right in the office, employers address a key pain point for workers: the need for convenient, healthy meals during the workday. This approach not only makes the office more inviting but it also fosters a sense of community and appreciation, encouraging employees to return in a more positive and engaged manner.

When we talk about food perks, we're referring to more than just the occasional free lunch or the standard vending machine in the break room. These are thoughtfully curated food programs that cater to the diverse tastes and dietary needs of individuals, transforming the office into a space that not only fuels the body but also makes coming into work an enjoyable experience.

Motivating A Return to In-Person Work with Culinary Perks

But how do these food perks actually encourage employees to return to the office?

  • Convenience and Comfort: By eliminating the daily hassle of meal preparation and planning, food perks add a layer of convenience and comfort to the workday.
  • Cost-Savings and Time Efficiency: With on-site food options, staff save both the time and money they would otherwise spend on sourcing meals during work hours.
  • Collaboration and Belonging: With high-quality meals being provided, employees are more likely to eat together. Sharing meals creates a communal atmosphere, fostering connections and a sense of belonging among colleagues.
  • Enhanced Work Environment: A well-fed team is a happy team. Food perks contribute to an overall positive and energetic work environment, which is a strong pull for remote workers to return to the office.

What sets food perks apart from other return-to-office initiatives is that it's mutually beneficial for both employers and employees. When incorporated with a strategic yet altruistic intent, it can become a tangible expression of a company's care for the well-being of its staff and the foundation for building a collaborative and satisfied workforce.

The Power of Food: More Than Just a Meal

For many companies, that might come across as being too good to be true, but fresh meals, eaten together, are proven to contribute to a more engaged workplace.

The proof is found in the universal appeal of food and its role as a social catalyst. It's important to remember that — in the office or in any context — food does more than curb hunger. It builds connections by bringing everyone to the table.

  • Encourages Interaction and Collaboration: Shared meals naturally bring people together, fostering conversations and collaboration. A study by Cornell University found that communal meals in a work environment, like those shared by firefighter platoons, lead to better group job performance compared to teams who dine individually.
  • Breaks Down Hierarchies: Eating together in the workplace creates a less formal environment, allowing for interaction across different levels of an organization. This can level the playing field, making it easier for junior staff and senior management to engage more informally.
  • Boosts Morale and Mental Health: Taking meal breaks, particularly with colleagues, can relieve stress and contribute to overall performance. A study published in the journal Cognition found that performance tends to decline the longer you work on a single task. Lunch breaks in which workers are not multitasking with their regular duties serves as an effective countermeasure to this.
  • Enhances Job Satisfaction: Employees who feel that their employers care for their well-being through food-based perks tend to have higher levels of job satisfaction. Research from Harvard Business Review indicates that companies with positive workplace environments, partly fostered through communal eating, retain staff, "making them more loyal to the leader and to the organization as well as bringing out their best strengths."
  • Creating a Sense of Belonging: Regular communal meals help workers feel more connected to their colleagues and the company culture. In a report issued by Seamless on the importance of fostering a unique corporate culture, they list providing meals as one of three key methods for building a positive work culture, saying that "sharing a meal and breaking bread with others is one of the most basic social experiences."

Food Perks Don’t Have to Break The Bank

In the same report by Seamless, the authors list several large tech companies that provide paid meals for employees. This might create the impression that offering food perks is something only the Googles and Facebooks of the world can afford to provide.

But it's a common misconception that providing employees with healthy food options is expensive. This has to do with the traditional view of workplace catering, with its high-end cafeterias and gourmet menus. The reality is that affordable and versatile options exist that can fit the budget and needs of a wide range of businesses, not just the tech giants.

In fact, looking at food perks as a strategic investment rather than just an expense can yield tangible returns for a business. 

When considering what type of return such an investment would make, it's crucial to weigh several key considerations for your cost vs. benefit analysis:

  • Encouraging Return to Office for Remote Workers: Offering food perks proves effective in encouraging remote workers back to the office, creating an inviting and rewarding environment that fosters collaboration and interactivity.
  • Increased Employee Satisfaction and Morale: Asses how food perks will impact your employees' overall happiness and morale. Satisfied employees often perform better because they're motivated and committed to their work.
  • Recruitment and Retention: Consider offering food perks to enhance your company's appeal to potential hires and retain existing staff, as unique benefits can be a key differentiator in a competitive job market.
  • Enhanced Productivity: Providing meals can save employees time that would otherwise be spent on meal preparation or going out for lunch. This could potentially lead to increased productivity and efficiency in the workplace.
  • Improved Health and Wellness: Evaluate how food perks can contribute to your employees' overall health and wellness. Offering healthy meal options can improve employee well-being, which in turn can reduce healthcare costs and absenteeism.
  • Fostering Company Culture: Food perks can foster a stronger company culture and encourage team building. Shared meal times facilitate networking and collaboration among employees.
  • Tax Benefits: Some jurisdictions offer tax incentives or deductions for employee wellness programs, including food perks.
  • Relieving the Cafeteria Burden: By eliminating the need for a dedicated cafeteria, a company can save on real estate costs, maintenance, and utility expenses. Food programs can also be scaled up or down more easily based on company size and need. And not having an on-site cafeteria means there's no staff required for food preparation, serving, and cleaning, which can offer significant savings in salaries and benefits.
  • Vendor Selection and Management: Assess the logistics of implementing food perks, including selecting the right vendors, managing deliveries, and ensuring food variety and quality.

Arranging a Food Service Doesn’t Have to be Difficult

The questions surrounding vendor selection, delivery management, and maintaining food quality can seem daunting at first. But once again, the traditional methods of providing meals for employees create a misconception about the burden of organizing office meals. 

And for good reason. Traditional methods are tedious, time-consuming, and incredibly limited:

  • Catering Services: Requires extensive planning and coordination for each event, making it a time-consuming process for companies.
  • On-site Cafeteria: As we already mentioned, operating an in-house cafeteria involves significant overhead costs, including staffing, equipment maintenance, and food inventory management.
  • Delivery: Relying on regular delivery services often leads to logistical challenges in managing timely delivery and ensuring meal variety for all employees.
  • Takeout: Ordering takeout places the burden of meal planning on your employees and lacks the cohesion of a shared dining experience.
  • Partnering with a Local Restaurant: Relying on a single restaurant restricts variety and flexibility due to limited menu options.

But modern workplace food services simplify the office dining experience, eliminating the complexities associated with the traditional methods mentioned above:

  • Digital Platform Management: Modern services offer intuitive digital platforms for easy ordering, tracking, and customization. This technology simplifies the coordination and management process, reducing the time and effort required compared to traditional catering services.
  • Diverse Vendor Networks: Unlike being limited to one local restaurant or vendor, modern services provide access to a wide range of culinary options. This variety caters to diverse tastes and dietary requirements, ensuring everyone in the office has something they can enjoy.
  • Automated Ordering and Delivery: These services often feature automated systems for recurring orders, eliminating the need for daily management. Delivery logistics are also handled by the service provider, ensuring meals are available and accessible without extensive coordination.

To benefit from this simplified process, choose a food service partner who understands your company's needs and can provide a variety of quality options. That's why it's so important to find a provider with flexibility and a track record for reliable service.

A Partnership with Cubbi Provides More Than Food

That level of flexibility and reliability is exactly what Cubbi provides.

As businesses search for ways to facilitate an office return for employees — and simultaneously enrich their office culture — Cubbi stands out as the perfect partner.

With our modern approach to workplace dining, Cubbi provides a cost-effective, resource-efficient, and streamlined food service that effortlessly integrates into an office environment.

Our innovative service is designed to alleviate the logistical burdens associated with traditional methods, while remaining affordable to a wide range of businesses. By simplifying the process of bringing delicious and varied food directly to the workplace, Cubbi can be used to not only attract remote workers back to the office but also to create a more collaborative and enjoyable atmosphere.

Here's how Cubbi can make that difference:

  • Easy to Access Meals: With Cubbi, lunch is an effortless experience. Employees simply step up to the Cubbi fridge and can access healthy and delicious meals.
  • Enjoy Up to 50% Off: Cubbi combines restaurant quality with budget-friendly. With up to 50% off restaurant and meal delivery prices, Cubbi can appeal to your team's taste buds without breaking the bank.
  • Free Daily Deliveries: With Cubbi, there are no delivery fees, hidden fees or tipping—just daily culinary treats brought to your workplace.
  • Intuitive Mobile App: The Cubbi mobile app makes managing meals simple. From ordering to scheduling deliveries and managing employee food benefits, it’s all just a tap away.
  • Simplified Food Subsidies and Benefits: Boosting job satisfaction is easy with Cubbi’s meal subsidies. By allocating meal credits or subsidies, employers can engage their team and keep morale high, contributing to a happier, more productive workplace.

We like to think of Cubbi as more of a solution than just a food service. 

Cubbi is tailored to meet the challenges of the modern workplace and the expectations of today's workforce by offering convenience, quality, and savings, all wrapped in an intuitive, user-friendly package.

What Cubbi Customers Have to Say

But perhaps the impact Cubbi provides is better illustrated by how our customers think of us. After all, they've seen firsthand the difference Cubbi makes in their workplaces:

  • "We've been using Cubbi for over a year, and their service is exceptional. They consistently go the extra mile to ensure we're satisfied, offering healthy local meals that are both affordable and convenient." — Jessie Evashenko, Executive Assistant, FFUN Motor Group
  • "Since introducing Cubbi, our employees have been excited about the convenience, price, and healthy options. It's been a positive addition to our workplace, boosting employee morale." — Vanessa Reay, Director of Human Resources, Apex Distribution Inc.
  • "With Cubbi, lunchtime is always a treat. The app is user-friendly and the customer service is exceptional. The affordability of meals truly sets Cubbi apart." — Levi Kuta, General Manager, Metal Alloy Fabrication Ltd.:

These testimonials underscore Cubbi's commitment to not just being a food service provider, but a reliable solution for today's workplace challenges, delivering convenience, quality, and affordability.

Given these features and the ability of Cubbi’s services to attract workers back to offices, selecting Cubbi as a partner seems like a natural choice.

Bring Life Back to Your Office with Cubbi

At the beginning of this article, we set the scene of a modern workplace with a description of "empty chairs at empty tables." It's a somber picture for many employers still struggling to fill their office spaces.

With Cubbi as a partner, such images are set for a major transformation.

To us, it’s not just about filling those empty chairs; it’s about reinvigorating workspaces with energy, collaboration, and a sense of community.

Here’s why Cubbi is the ideal choice to accomplish that:

  • We Simplify the Transition: The convenience and variety of meals provided by Cubbi ease the transition for employees returning to the office, making it something to look forward to.
  • We Bring People Together: Just as a good meal gathers family and friends, Cubbi's diverse food offerings turn lunch breaks into an opportunity for bonding and teamwork.
  • We Help You Demonstrate Care and Value: Offering quality food perks through Cubbi shows employees they are valued, boosting morale and job satisfaction.

Together, we can energize and redefine the workplace experience for returning staff. Turn those empty chairs at empty tables into a bustling, dynamic workspace. Explore what Cubbi can do for your team by booking your free tasting today.

Make food an employee benefit, not a hassle.

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