Chewse just recently published our first eBook, The Benefits of an Office Catering Program. There, we dive into recent studies about office benefits, workplace culture, and how office catering can increase retention and reduce turnover. To learn more, click the button below to download!

Not sure the eBook is for you? We covered the basics in a previous blog post, and we’re going to dive deeper. This blog post is the first of a two-part series on what you’ll find when you download the Chewse eBook, and how the eBook might work for your office. 

In The Benefits of an Office Catering Program, we break the topic up into four parts: 

  1. What the problem is
  2. Why human connection matters
  3. How office catering boosts human connection 
  4. What you’d get out of an investment in office catering

We covered 1. What the problem is in the introductory blog post (learn more here), so we’re going to dive straight in to 2. Why human connection matters and 3. How office catering boosts human connection today.

Human Connection in the workplace

Humans thrive on interpersonal relationships. We require face-to-face interaction and crave a personal relationship with the people around us. The problem is, modern-day offices don’t foster these types of connections. We spend the majority of our time staring at screens, working through email and Slack, and (at best) meeting on Zoom and Skype. 

Workplace loneliness is on the rise as workplace connection dwindles. But employees are rebelling against workplace loneliness – they overwhelmingly report that they are, in fact, looking for the exact opposite.

We think of the workplace as a hierarchy: you have your superiors, your manager, your director, etc. But social connection – human connection – in the workplace actually looks like a web, not an ordered hierarchy. Sure, every employee is connected to their teammates and boss, but they’re also connected to someone who takes the same bus as them, another employee with the same hobbies, maybe even a coworker they knew before coming to work. 

This web of social influence is critical for employees to feel like they belong. They don’t just want to talk to the person to their immediate right and left; in fact, 70% of employees want the people they work with to function as “second family.”

That’s where office catering comes in!

We aren’t exaggerating when we say the best way to connect in the workplace is over food. Whether you’re getting the day started with a bagel bar or avocado toast breakfast catering, facilitating a midday break with family-style lunch catering, or celebrating a great week with happy hour or treats catering – food is the universal human connector. 

But, to be fair, we say that a lot here at Chewse. Here’s what we mean: 

ONE – Catering requires employees to unplug

By a show of hands, how many of your employees eat lunch at your desk? (Ok, obviously we aren’t polling them, but we’re willing to bet that number is pretty high). And to be fair, no matter what you do, you’ll never totally get rid of desk-eating. When there’s a particularly pressing article or account or due date… well, sometimes, work doesn’t stop. 

But if you don’t offer an alternative for when employees can take a break, they’re going to default to eating with one hand and typing with the other. Sure, maybe they’re watching YouTube videos instead of doing work, but by being plugged in, they’re not engaging with their coworkers. That face-to-face interaction we mentioned, the one that was so important? 

Nowhere to be found. 

By offering office catering you’re telling your employees: “Culture is important. We want you to connect and engage with the office.” You’re giving them permission to get to know their coworkers. Sure, that permission is always implied, but when you facilitate a meal, it becomes harder for them to not engage. 

TWO – Shared meals actually boost trust

There’s a reason we facilitate family-style catering. When you order with Chewse, you aren’t going to get an individually wrapped box with your name on it. Rather, our meals look something like this:

Blue Front Cafe, San Francisco

Why? Because sharing the same food creates connection. Whether you’re eating with friends, coworkers, or strangers, a subconscious connection is formed when you eat together. 

In a recent study, University of Chicago Professor Ayelet Fishbach asked participants (who didn’t know each other) to negotiate. Before the negotiation, however, they were told to finish a meal. Half of the participants were given two different foods (chips and sweets). In those negotiations, participants took an average of 7.3 rounds (back and forth) to find a satisfactory solution. When participants ate the same food? It only took them 3.6 rounds to agree.

THREE – Family-style catering encourages cross-team collaboration

Maybe you’re already well on your way to establishing healthy connection and community in your office, and each team is thriving. You might have implemented team love funds or company outings. But how well do coworkers on different teams know each other?

With family-style catering, everyone has a seat at the table. Better yet, if you set up your break room correctly (spoiler: we can help with that!), employees from totally different teams might end up sitting next to each other. In some cases, this might spark amazing ideas – a Project Manager might see a solution an engineer might never have found. In other cases, this will just create healthy connections and foster true connection in the workplace. 

Catering goes beyond the water cooler

One solution we often hear from people is “oh, ok, so just set up some free food?”. And sure, we love free food as much (if not way more) than the next person. But it isn’t enough to set up a water cooler or some tasty snacks and call it a day. 

With catering, you’re placing your employees in the same place at the same time. Sure, at the water cooler or snack pantry some employees might run into each other and may strike up a conversation – but you’re leaving your company culture up to chance. 

When you offer family-style meals, your employees will be in the same time eating the same food – and conversation flourishes. Better yet,  they’re having longer, more involved connections that they’ll keep with them. That’s because the core of human connection – that engagement your employees are demanding – is conversation. What better time to chat than over food? 

Catering prevents underdeveloped company culture (which leads to low engagement)

Did you know that only 32% of employees feel engaged in their workplace? Lack of engagement leads to reduced performance and decreased enjoyment at work. At its most extreme, it leads to high turnover and terrible retention.

We’ve talked in previous blog posts about how emphasizing your values and engaging your employees is critical. One easy way to do that is through catering – but don’t stop there. Once you have engaged, interested employees, you then have to build a culture around that. This often happens by defining your values – what do you want for your company, and how are you going to get there? 

At Chewse, we’ve done that with a two-pillar approach: Love & Excellence. With our Love pillar, we care about our employees. Hand-in-hand with Love is Excellence: if we care about our employees, it’s our responsibility to hold them to their highest potential. (This, in turn, can only happen if we care about them… you see the cycle). 

However your company chooses to build your culture and engage your employees, something has to be done. Challenge that 32% to create engagement in your office. Engagement, in turn, builds trust, which will allow you to move the bar 10x higher.

Curious? Learn more!

To learn more, and see all of this information in-action, download our eBook today!