Hi! We are Chewse! What is Chewse? As strange as this might sound, that’s… kind of up to interpretation. When it comes to catering food for your office, the world (and by the world, we mostly mean the Internet) hasn’t landed on one centralized term. 

Office catering, meal planning for an office, lunch vendors, restaurant catering, corporate catering, catering services… the list goes on! Which is ironic (in our opinion) because in reality, the core concept is quite simple. Do you order lunch, at the office, as a group? Are you feeding, on a somewhat regular schedule? Does your office work with restaurants, apps, or a third party company to help food get from A to B to stomachs? 

Catering food for your office has huge benefits…

If you’ve landed on this page, you’re likely at least interested in catering food for your office. 

First of all – yay!

Feeding your employees doesn’t just benefit them (or you) – this holistic, all-company perk impacts everyone. Whether your primary goal is to create community in the workplace or boost productivity, you’ll likely reap all of the benefits of eating together. Studies, anecdotes, and our personal experience working with people and food (can you tell we love our job?) have shown again and again that people who eat together are happier, more productive, and more likely to stay at their companies for longer

…for your office community…

For starters, sharing food creates community and engagement within teams and throughout a company. Studies have shown that sitting down and enjoying a meal together creates stronger bonds between people (even strangers!). And, though every company will have tension within and between teams, taking the time to unplug from your computers and eat together can soften those emotions.

Sharing food also creates community in smaller ways. These community benefits mostly show up “under the hood” of your company’s culture, but they’re no less valuable. For example, maybe two employees from completely different departments happen to stand next to each other in line. During their conversation, they realized they happened to go skiing at the same mountain the previous weekend! Or maybe two people sitting next to each other, chatting about their current projects, will realize they work really well in tandem. Their future collaboration could help push the bar 10x higher on both projects. These spontaneous connections can take your company in new and exciting directions.

…for workplace productivity…

On the business side, catering food for your office also increases productivity and engagement. Employees that take a midday break from screens actually report that they’re more productive and motivated when they return to their desks after lunch. Those same employees are more connected to their company, and more likely to be engaged in their day to day work.

Lunch catering also increases productivity because it reduces the amount of time involved with getting food. Usually, employees will have to figure out where to eat, walk there, wait in line, and then walk back. Worse, employees that do go out to grab lunch often feel like they’ve already taken their “lunch break.” These employees are more likely to eat with one hand on the keyboard, or forego lunch all together. 

…and for employee retention

Workplace meal programs also impact retention. Modern employees actually value benefits and perks over a pay raise. That’s because these benefits create community and make the workplace feel more like home, which is critical to employee happiness. In fact, 70% of Millennials want their office community to be like a “second family.”

Office catering is a way to show that you care about your employee’s health. This, in turn, makes your employees feel valued and heard. Combined with the type of community that’s created when employees eat together, it’s no wonder these perks are becoming more and more commonplace.

So you want to feed your office. Now what?

The Bay Area tech giant stereotype (you know the one, with the fancy Google meals and free cafes?) is no longer applicable. Nowadays, small companies and large ones are feeding their people. It’s a common perk in the tech industry, but it’s becoming a more and more common perk in other industries as well. 

And, as the demand for corporate catering grows, so too does the variety. Whether you’re looking for BBQ catering in LA or Mexican catering in Austin, or even make-your-own-ramen catering in San Francisco and Silicon Valley… the sky is the (new) limit. 

But, with all of the growth in the office catering world, how can you make sure you’re getting the best deal for your company? 

With great variety comes great confusion

Usually, whatever term you input into Google gets you where you need to go. Ideally, though, we want what we Google to show up in the first page. That second page of Google? No thank you!

If you Google “office catering” you’ll eventually find what you’re looking for, and land on a service that’s right for you. But even though you’ll eventually find what you’re looking for (we hope!), you might have to wade through tons of unrelated results first.

“Meal planning” for instance, yields personal tips for large-batch cooking and Sunday prep advice. Alternatively, a search for “breakfast catering” can take you to something like Panera Bread (we <3 you Panera, but more in a once-in-a-while sort of way). If you want a hassle-free, culture-building, community-involved service, what do you do?

Who run the world? Words

The truth is, we all rely on similar words and terms to refer to the things we do. Whenever those words don’t line up with what we meant to say, there’s a moment of awkward silence or embarrassment. We’ve all had that moment where we called one of our teachers “Mom,” and we’d rather not repeat that, thank you very much.

Having mutually-agreed-upon words with which to refer to things, matters. The English language lives on connotations and, even if we don’t mean to, slight tweaks in language can make a big difference in perception. For instance, a company retreat in a cottage in the forest is very different from a retreat in a cabin in the woods. The expectations going in are different, even if both are perfectly safe and not horror-movie-like (we promise). 

So where does catering come in? Why is a blog about food talking about this stuff? 

A keyword is worth 1,000 words

Grassroots movements have been well documented in the modern age. Yet we don’t talk frequently enough about how grassroots movements and community involvement can impact the English language itself. In reality, the words you use, the words your friends use, and the words your community uses can impact the world. 

Think (for an unpleasant example) of the word bae. In 2013, social media users and singers started including bae in their language. By 2014, it was a runner-up for Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year (“vape” won, btw). 

The office catering industry as it exists today is fragmented. There are dozens of keywords flying around, and we’re sure more will be created by the time you read this blog. Each company chooses their own – as you can tell, we’ve chosen “office catering.” Maybe the industry will settle on a different one, and we’ll have to adjust accordingly. That remains to be seen.

But who is going to decide the office catering keyword once and for all? It’s not us. It’s up to you – the admins, the Office Managers, the HR personnel that are ordering food for your office. What you call it, what you say when you reference it to your friends, what you ask for when you call catering companies – that’s what it’ll be called.

All of this to say: catering for offices? Call it whatever you want (just call us when it’s time for dinner).

And who knows. Maybe “office catering” will be 2019’s Word of the Year. 😉