We’ve covered Office Manager + food before (see: here), but we wanted to come back to it because we know organizing food for any team is an ongoing challenge. How are you expected to buy snacks or, shudder, full meals? What happens when your employees are that wonderful mix of gluten-free and lactose-free and keto and paleo, etc, etc, etc?

We’re here with a few strategies about how you can be mindful of your employees’ food allergies without breaking your back. But first, for those of you who haven’t handled food allergies before, a quick warning:

Food allergies matter

We know this sounds incredibly obvious. But we want to emphasize that food allergies matter regardless of whether your employee is avoiding certain foods by necessity or choice. We know that it can be really inconvenient to have to order a variety of meals because of dietary restrictions or preferences, but ignoring a food allergy can cause anything from a stomachache to a medical emergency.

It comes back to respect

Planning meals or snacks and navigating food allergies isn’t a one-person job. As an Office Manager, you’re likely in charge of actually organizing the food, figuring out what it should be, and getting it to the office. We know this means being careful and cautious of food allergies on your part, but your employees should also prepare and educate themselves about how they can do this. Where to start? Try sending them our helpful intro to navigating food allergies in the office.

As for your part? Here are five things you can do to help facilitate food in your office, and make sure everyone is eating what works for them.

ONE – Good things come to those who label

When it comes to navigating food allergies in the office, the easiest thing you can do is make sure any foods that may pose a risk are clearly labeled. Common practice nowadays is to mark if something is gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, or spicy, and some offices choose to highlight other food types as well (think: nut-free, lactose-free, or soy-free). Most restaurants also often label if their food is one of these, so try copying that information into clearly-visible labels.

If this is something you deal with often, you can also create symbols (and explain what the symbols mean to your employees) and attach those in clearly-visible places. That way, you’re arming your employees with the information they need to navigate their food allergies.

TWO – Look out for allergens in disguise

If you’re ordering snacks or pre-made meals, make sure you’re aware of all the ingredients. Some foods may have been made in facilities that handle common allergens, while other foods might have blends of ingredients that can contain an allergen. Informing yourself of these options is the best way to make sure everything is clearly labeled.

THREE – Penny for your employees’ thoughts?

One of the best tools in your toolkit is a questionnaire to make sure you’re aware of food allergies. If you haven’t already, send out a quick Google Form or other survey. While you’re at it, why not also ask your employees what their favorite food or snack is, so you can surprise them with a special treat?

Once you have the form in place, make sure you share it with new employees so you’re up-to-date on all of the food allergies in your office. This helps because you may have to alter the number of vegan vs gluten-free options you provide, so keeping yourself in the loop is the easiest way to do that!

FOUR – Get by with a little help from your employees

It’s our firm belief that Office Managers are basically Superman in disguise, but you don’t have to do it alone. Your job as a support system for your employees only works if they’re looking out for their own allergies and making informed decisions about what they’re eating. If you have an employee that leans more heavily on you, or doesn’t know where to start, we’ve got your back. We wrote up a quick article about how to navigate food allergies in the office, with six helpful ways they can keep themselves informed and protected.

FIVE – Do you have bigger fish to fry? Try Chewse!

You don’t have to do it alone! Juggling allergens can be frustrating and difficult. Figuring out how much food to order your employees? Sometimes a minefield. Trying to juggle snacks while also scheduling in-office interviews? Challenging!

Chewse is here to help make it easier. We work with you to figure out your office flavor profile and preference, then offer a variety of food options sourced from local businesses. The food arrives and (if you’d like) is set up hassle-free, so you can enjoy meals with your employees. Interested in learning more? Contact us today.