Companies from Goldman Sachs Group to Havas SA hope that the path to their employees’ hearts will be through their stomachs as they try to lure staff back to the office.
At Goldman Sachs, free breakfast, lunch and ice cream are part of the pitch to convince employees from London to Hong Kong and New York to leave the comfort of their homes, where some have worked since March 2020, when they seized the pandemic. One of the most vocal advocates of bringing everyone back even allows those meals to be enjoyed on the rooftop garden of Plumtree Court, once reserved for patrons and visiting royalty.
“Food is playing a much more central role in office life and companies are using their food offerings to try and influence behavior,” said Robin Mills, UK and Ireland managing director of the caterer. Compass Group. “We are now part of these reopening conversations and part of this new world as companies think about how to keep people coming back.”
After more than a year of empty offices and zoom calls, pandemic restrictions are easing and companies are trying to figure out how to manage work plans in the office. With the uncertainty over whether Britain’s vaccination program will contain the fast-spreading delta variant, some workers don’t want to go back to the office at all. Companies are treading a fine line, allowing flexibility as they try to fill expensive office spaces and revitalize their corporate culture.
Xavier Rees, CEO of Havas London, said the media group is “demonstrably better when we’re in the office” and that the priority is to get people back when possible. “Not five days a week, but certainly most of the time, without robbing them of the new freedoms discovered in the confinement.”
Havas, a Compass customer, is using food for that purpose, investing in his home kitchen, cafeteria and cafeteria, and allowing employees to make menu suggestions. Renovated and heavily subsidized options include healthier meals on “Wellness Wednesdays” and menus inspired by cultural events, holidays and international cuisines. It will offer free lunches on Mondays and Fridays throughout the month of August.
“We’ve prioritized the kinds of amenities that make being in an office attractive, and food is a really important part of that,” Rees said in an emailed statement. “This is not new, it was a great sales pitch before the pandemic, but this kind of thing has become even more important as we begin to encourage people to return to the office.”
Janus Henderson Group, which was offering heavily subsidized three-course meals for just a few pounds at its London City office before the pandemic, is now offering all food free. The asset management group, which has established a general guideline of spending two days a week in the office, “cannot say what our exact future work model will be, but we want to keep the best of remote and office work, ”Said a spokesperson.