Ordering in

NJBIZ STAFF//October 4, 2021

Ordering in

NJBIZ STAFF//October 4, 2021

Food delivery to office. Business lunch in take away box, top view.

Since the earliest days of the pandemic, there has been much discussion and debate about its impact on the future of work. The bulk of the conversation has revolved around how workplaces will need to evolve to accommodate both lingering pandemic-related concerns as well as the irreversible changes in how we now work. Our workplaces are quickly changing with the times and beginning to reflect the latest thinking about workspace design, corporate culture and employee interaction. However, many landlords and employers are overlooking a critical component of the workplace experience that plays a crucial role in all of the above: corporate dining services.

Employers who aren’t currently re-evaluating their corporate dining strategies are missing a huge opportunity to substantially boost morale, productivity, engagement and the health and well-being of their workforce. According to recent research by Tork, North American workers who take a lunch break every day score higher on a wide range of crucial engagement metrics, including job satisfaction, likelihood to continue working at the same company, and likelihood to recommend their employer to others.

On the flip side of that coin, sobering data in Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2021 Report shows that American workers are among the most stressed-out in the world, with 57% reporting that they experience daily stress from their jobs. For workers under 40, that number jumps to 64%. At a time when unprecedented numbers of Americans are re-evaluating their priorities and seeking out employment opportunities that improve their quality of life, these statistics can’t be ignored.

It is obvious that finding ways to ensure that employees regularly take a lunch break that they find satisfying can be a key part of solving corporate America’s serious morale problem. At the root of that equation is a need to give employees the ability to get delicious, fresh, healthy food they want to eat, when and where they want to eat it.

It’s time for employers and property owners to take a more thoughtful and strategic approach to create corporate dining programs that enrich both their cultures and their employees. A big part of this should be shifting corporate dining programs to emphasize the kind of choice and convenience that people have grown accustomed to during the 18 months of the pandemic.

For millions who worked from home during the pandemic, services like DoorDash and Uber Eats became a staple of the daily workday routine. These services enabled people to get their favorite meals delivered directly to their houses whenever they wanted. Now, many workers are being asked to return to offices where less-than-appealing cafeterias are too often the only easy food option. In some suburban office locations, the nearest decent restaurant is often a 10 to 15 minute drive away, leaving little time to take a lunch break and enjoy a meal, ramping up stress and dissatisfaction. For these employees, the opportunity to bring choice and convenience to their days could make a huge impact in helping them look forward to lunch each day and encourage them to leave their desks to eat it.

Forward-looking corporate dining service providers are ahead of this trend and rolling out services like Dartcor’s recently launched Cloud Market platform to provide employers with familiar solutions that enhance quality, choice and convenience in their workplace dining programs. Through the Cloud Market, workers can place orders via a user-friendly website for a variety of chef-inspired meals created daily in Dartcor kitchens or hubs across the Tri-State area. When lunchtime comes, fresh, nutritionally appropriate meals are awaiting the employee at one of our drop-off outposts stationed around their offices.

Beyond the obvious benefits to employees, services like the Cloud Market also help landlords and employers solve the vexing issue of how to stop running in the red on corporate dining services.

The service can also be extended to tap into local restaurants’ menus to offer their fare for delivery as a “virtual pop-up.” However, unlike popular food delivery services, the Cloud Market does not apply the kind of onerous fees that often hurt restaurants’ bottom lines. In fact, the Cloud Market service allows employers or landlords to subsidize meals to further encourage employees to use the service and take lunch breaks. By increasing the variety of meals easily available to employees, lunch can now be a highlight of their day instead of a dreaded chore.

Beyond the obvious benefits to employees, services like the Cloud Market also help landlords and employers solve the vexing issue of how to stop running in the red on corporate dining services.

First, these types of flexible services cut down on administrative costs as office managers are not spending hours each day collecting lunch orders and calling local restaurants. Second, the efficiency of the system ensures that lunch is only being brought into the office for people who explicitly ordered it. In a world where it is difficult to gauge when employees will be working in the office versus at home, flexible direct ordering systems like the Cloud Market ensure that food waste is kept to a minimum and dollars that might have been previously spent on uneaten food can be redeployed into other parts of the business. With these types of systems, employers are not only helping to make their workers more productive and happier but are also realizing significant cost savings in a time when costs are only rising.

While it is important, services like The Cloud Market are just one aspect in the strategic rethinking of corporate dining. As we look to a more hopeful return to work picture entering 2022, corporate dining can no longer be overlooked by employers and property owners as they seek to create a workplace of the future that helps attract and retain the best, brightest and happiest employees. Through taking stock of their current corporate dining offerings and identifying areas in need of improvement, employers and property owners now have an opportunity to truly improve their workers’ morale and fuel their corporate cultures.

Jason Leeds is vice president of business development at Dartcor Food Services.