Lunch liberation: Catering to twenty-first century employees

Posted: 4 March 2024 | | No comments yet

Matt Ephgrave, MD at Just Eat for Business explains how hybrid work has been reshaping food culture and why tech-driven solutions can revolutionise workplace catering.


By Matt Ephgrave, Managing Director at Just Eat for Business

Workplace culture has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years, with the adoption of hybrid working one of the most significant reasons for its evolution. Fast forward a few years from the pandemic, and hybrid working has well and truly shown its staying power, with many workers continuing to split their time between the office and home.

This has provided workers with more flexibility – on days at home, employees can structure their days in a way that personally affords them the most productivity, can eat what and whenever they like, and work in a comfortable environment tailored to their specific needs. Put simply, hybrid working has provided employees the luxury of ‘choice’, and it’s becoming all the more clear that the office needs to match this level of ‘choice’ in order to keep workers engaged and entice them to the office.

The choice of food

‘Choice’ extends itself across all elements of the office, but one particular area that has proven effective to keep workers satisfied is through food. With diverse dietary preferences and requirements among employees, the days of uniform work lunches are long behind us, and have since been replaced with a wider ‘choice’ of options to suit each worker’s needs. Coupled with the fact that there is an ever-growing amount of diverse cuisine and restaurants to choose from in modern times, people are generally eating a more diverse diet and now want the same from their lunches too.


A survey has revealed that two in five Brits are eating the same lunch at least twice a week

Our recent survey of British office workers revealed that a lack of food choices at work correlates with dissatisfaction. In fact, two in five office workers reported consuming  the same thing at least twice a week, with 50 percent dissatisfied with their lunch. The data shows that workers are falling on their ‘go-to’ lunch not due to habit or love for that item, but for lack of other options available. This reinstates even more that business leaders need to work harder to provide choice to keep workers satisfied and consequently motivated.

Implementing choice-led solutions in the catering industry

Handing over the baton to employees to choose their own meals at work is essential for modern businesses, not only to provide options, but to show that the businesses are considering individual needs and preferences. 

Beyond offering a variety of options and ensuring allergen safety, what strategies can food and beverage companies employ to deliver optimal choice for their employees?

Generally speaking, the food and beverage industry has a history of embracing technology to enhance operational efficiency, and this is becoming the case in catering for the modern workplace. Leveraging technology-driven solution platforms, such as Just Eat for Business, empowers workplaces to offer a diverse range of food options while accommodating individual dietary needs and preferences. Employees can make informed choices based on nutritional information and personal preferences, even customising portion sizes to suit their appetite.


Tech enabled individual ordering

With digital food delivery platforms, employees can select meals tailored to their preferences and schedules, regardless of whether they are working in the office or at home. As a result, employees can enjoy personalised meals delivered to them, helping to foster a sense of satisfaction and convenience.

Customised menus

Businesses can further enhance food choice in the workplace by working with catering managers to curate customised menus that cater to diverse dietary requirements. Through categorising food options and clearly providing allergen information, caterers can ensure the individuals with specific dietary requirements or preferences can confidently select meals that suit them. This streamlined approach goes a long way in improving employees’ lunchtime experience.

Group ordering

While it is always the main aim of business leaders to ensure their workers feel heard and their individual needs catered for, it’s crucial to help them also feel integrated, and not ‘awkward’ for choosing something different. Group ordering is a great work around this. Available on delivery platforms, group ordering allows groups of employees to order from multiple restaurants at once to cater to varying tastes and preferences, all while still arriving at the office at the same time. This ensures that workers can eat together regardless of their lunch choice, fostering collaboration, togetherness and optimising on social time.

Navigating choice in workplace catering remains an important issue in the evolving landscape of workplace culture. While technology-led solutions help to offer an effective means to address this challenge, caterers must remain versatile to the diverse needs and preferences of flexible workplaces. Through embracing solutions that facilitate informed decision-making and cater to individual dietary requirements, caterers and business leaders can play a vital part in uplifting employee experience in the workplace.

About the author

Matt EphgraveMatt Ephgrave is Just Eat for Business’ Managing Director. With renowned experience in hybrid and marketplace businesses, Ephgrave was previously the COO of Festicket, the world’s largest festival travel platform.

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