Enjoying food as part of a group is one of the mainstays of human culture. No matter what the food or the setting, it encourages people to relax, talk, and communicate with each other.
Businesses can leverage this fact by providing catering for office meetings, at least important ones. The cost is likely to be more than justified by the benefits it delivers.
Here, Workplace Refreshments share a brief guide to what you need to know.
The benefits of office catering for meetings
There are numerous benefits to offering office catering for meetings. Here are five of the main ones.
Making the right impression
First impressions are important. They are a major factor in lasting impressions. Coming into a room with catering does help to create a good first impression. For longer meetings, providing catering at strategic points can help keep the general mood positive.
Saving everybody time and hassle
Providing catering in a meeting saves attendees from having to organize their own food. This can do a lot to keep meetings running to schedule. It also minimizes the risk of people heading off to get food, getting sidetracked, and not coming back (or at least not when they should).
Getting attendees in the right frame of mind
In the real world, the fact that a meeting is necessary or even important does not mean that it is welcomed. Offering catering at meetings can do a lot to break down resistance to attending them. Even if you can enforce attendance, you cannot really force people to engage with you. You can, however, use persuasive tactics such as providing catering.
In very simple terms, having food available means that people can top up their energy levels when they need to. This is essential to maintaining high levels of productivity.
Providing catering encourages people to stay for breaks. This in turn encourages them to network with each other. It hence forms the basis for improved collaboration.
Tips for organizing office catering for meetings
Organizing office catering for meetings doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are five useful tips to guide you.
Think about attendee preferences
For smaller meetings, you may simply be able to ask people what sort of options they would like. For larger meetings, however, you’re probably going to have to rely on common sense. Think about the time of day and the time of year. Then factor in common allergies, intolerances, and dietary preferences.
Once you have a baseline idea of what your reasonable options are, try to offer as wide a spread of them as possible. That way there should be something for everyone.
Set a realistic budget
It’s more important to know what your budget is than to have a lot of disposable funds. There are usually ways to stretch your money if it’s tight. For example, these days, a lot of people are perfectly happy to eat vegan food. You could therefore stick with vegan/vegetarian options for the most part. If appropriate, you can supplement these with more budget-friendly meat options for those who want them.
Book your supplier well in advance
This is standard advice for booking suppliers and it holds true for office catering.
Remember presentation matters
Effective presentation can make food even more appealing. It can also serve a highly practical function. In particular, it can make it easier for people to tell quickly which food options are suitable for them. They can then use the labeling as a double-check. This may seem like a small detail. It can, however, save a lot of time and queuing.
Have a plan for clearing up
Have a plan for clearing up excess food, unavoidable food waste (e.g., fruit peels), and tableware. Try to avoid letting edible food be thrown out.