When it comes to something that every employee shares, it’s the need to refuel and rehydrate our bodies. Whether it’s grabbing a sandwich or a snack from the vending machine, eating is a regular and necessary event during the workday. Large corporations like Google or Microsoft have built a reputation around their healthy gourmet cafeterias for the employees and with good reason.
Employee cafeterias can serve multiple functions and increase productivity in the workplace. The cliched version of “gathering around the water cooler” has its good points. Employees who spend time together enjoying meals or coffee can collaborate and brainstorm in an environment that’s more casual and conducive to creative thinking. Whether there’s truth to the story that the idea for Google’s GMAIL was constructed during a sojourn for lunch in the cafeteria, the reality is that getting employees to interact is a good practice.
Another upside to providing onsite cafeterias is to keep the employees focused by offering easy access to fast snacks and meals. According to Dr. PernilleStroebaek, a prominent lecturer in the subject of psychology at the University of Copenhagen, taking regular coffee breaks is an essential part of the workday. After 90 minutes of focusing on a task, the human brain slows down in response to the need for fuel in the form of glucose. This theory can be easily tested by anyone who works at a desk job and looks forward to their morning coffee break.
Companies that provide location-based access to a meal service make it easy for their staff to refuel with a variety of food choices whether they are healthy or not. This is, of course, a far stretch from the modern home office and working out-of-the-house. While Google is famous for creating a work environment where most employees are choosing to drink water over soda, providing any kind of food is preferable to no choice at all. Today’s employees are expected to work long hours and many people commute long distances to get to their jobs. This creates a perfect storm when it comes to the lack of self-care in terms of eating regular meals. When given the option of sleeping for an extra half hour or eating a meal before work, many of us opt for the sleep.
The 21st-century workforce is short on time, and employers need to step up and fill the void for their employees by providing viable food options for them. For instance, take a look at the typical office worker who has a half-hour for lunch. Either he or she is brown-bagging it and simply eating at their desk or making a mad dash to the nearest fast food joint. Even if the employee gets the luxury of an hour for lunch, there’s still the travel time and waiting in line that cuts into their lunchtime. This hardly makes for a relaxing break or a productive employee.
Imagine the benefits of offering staff a cafeteria option that was just minutes away from their work stations. The menu could be as basic or as gourmet as the company culture allows for, but it’s the accessibility that will boost productivity and the morale of the employee pool. Cafeterias should be considered a benefit to entice highly qualified candidates to sign on or to keep employees from seeking a position elsewhere. Providing a corporate cafeteria also contributes to the health and well-being of the workers, and can potentially decrease sick days or visits to the doctor.
An onsite office cafeteria is a must for any company that wants to stay competitive and keep a happy workforce. Vending machines and refreshment stations can also be placed throughout the building to keep employees productive and to provide a welcome spot for socializing.