Sandwiches at the desk: the enemy of productivity
As workspace consultants and fit out specialists, we often get asked what impacts productivity. And our answer is that it’s not all down to office planning and design. Office practices play a big part too.
Consider this scene: you’ve had meetings until midday. And now you’ve got to deliver something by 1:00pm. The solution? Skip a proper lunch and eat a sarnie at the desk while frantically working.
It’s a behaviour you’ll find in pretty much any office, anywhere in the world. And it’s biting into profits. In fact, 49% of office workers say they’re more productive when they leave their workspace during lunch.
Want to help your people be more effective in the afternoon? Make food a competitive advantage. Here’s how to incorporate a proper eating culture.
1. Eat variety
It’s great to have your own cafeteria. But for many people, lunches outside the office are a big attraction. So try to build relationships with your local eateries. Place their menus in break-out areas, create some excitement about new openings and see if any of them will give your employees special discounts.
Remember, people want variety and change with the season – swapping salads and sushi in summer for pasta and ramen in winter. And take any opportunities to celebrate culinary traditions like Oktoberfest or the Chinese New Year.
2. Eat healthy
With food intrinsic to both mental and physical health, it helps to know the facts. Not every company can employ its own nutritionist, but you can point people towards useful information.
It could be related to weight loss, like low carb. Or health, such as gluten or lactose free. Or more on-trend movements, like Keto. An office app or intranet can be a good forum. But try to keep your eating culture factual. And if you recommend any recipes or ingredients, remember that ingredients and potential allergens must be kept in mind.
3. Eat mindfully
If you imagine someone eating with a smile on their face, it’s likely they’re not sitting at a desk in front of a plastic container. So encourage your people to leave their desks – ideally the office – for lunch at least once a week (to start).
Arranging lunch clubs can help – where someone different chooses a restaurant each week. And if they do choose a takeaway restaurant, perhaps make it a rule everyone returns to eat their food in an office meeting room on real plates with knives, forks and spoons.
4. Eat socially
Food and social interaction are deeply entwined. So design your workspace flexibly with eating in mind. Create areas where people can have lunch together without disturbing others, and even linger to swap ideas while building the professional connections every business community needs.
And why stop at lunch? Why not dinner? Give teams a budget to create an evening event. Or simply invite people to bring dishes in for everyone to enjoy. Whatever the method – it’s about strengthening connections and using food to improve the work experience and in turn your eating culture.