Hybrid Work Series, Part 1: How will we consume food at work? An interview with Laura Gomez, CEO of Catevering

Without a doubt hybrid working and the need to secure the health and safety of workers will have a huge impact on how workplaces will be run and organized. Along with the physical arrangement of office furniture to account for social distancing and changing number of people in the workplace, the way that food is made available and consumed needs also to be re-imagined.

Traditional workplace canteens where people congregate at fixed times are giving way to food corners and food delivery modes that allow easy access to food regardless of time. In the hybrid workplace, food must also be made available to people working in their homes or other locations. And what about food preferences and diversity of choices? These must also be taken into consideration in addition to food being a source of health and well-being for workers. As workers do not come into the office as much for physical meetings and team gatherings, it becomes a moment to celebrate with good food and drinks that must be available at a short notice.

In this series on the impact of hybrid working on workplaces and workers, we spoke with European startups who are helping companies adjust to the hybrid workplace. In this first part of the series, we talked to Laura Gomez, CEO of catering platform Catevering, a free  catering platform based in Barcelona. With Catevering, companies can compare, customize, and book the ideal catering for their team breakfasts, meetings, after works, teambuilding and special events. Booking is done in three clicks and invoices and orders are managed from the same platform. Laura spoke about her thoughts on hybrid working from her insights gathered while running Catevering. She also shared how Catevering is helping companies adjust to food availability and consumption and the trends on food consumption in the hybrid workplace set-up.

Do you think that hybrid working is here to stay, or it is just a passing trend?

Our client is 100% B2B, and we talk to companies, medium and large companies, every day, so it is not a matter of opinion, but of knowledge as such, that the Hybrid work model has come to stay.

About 90% of companies tell us that they will change their model for life, realizing that the productivity of their team has been equal to or even improved with remote work. This allows them to reduce the infrastructure costs they currently have and make their workplace spaces for meetings, training, and teambuilding, allowing workers to combine face-to-face work with remote work.

Not only has it equalized or improved the productivity of employees, but it has also improved their well-being by offering a work-life balance that they have always been asking for.

The workplace as we knew it before is going to change with these new habits. Companies will be able to reduce the costs of their infrastructure and will be able to allocate their resources to implementing more social benefits for their employees.

Whether it is hybrid or going back full-time to the physical offices, how can Catevering help companies adapt to a post-pandemic workplace?

As I mentioned above, remote working has come to stay. Even so, the presence will continue to exist and so will the offices, however it will be a hybrid model for life. For this reason, business models such as the “Physical Corporate Canteens” will be reduced or eliminated completely in the offices, leading this service to digitization and individual personalization.

In this sense, from Catevering we will launch a new virtual brand for the Corporate Virtual Canteen (Cateverlunch), the digitization of the physical dining room, where employees can buy their daily menus of different cuisines, using the social benefits given by the company as Ticket Restaurant (Edenred), Sodexo , Gourmet check. Among other the benefits of the canteen, we offer the possibility to order from the menu the same day until 12:00 with delivery in under an hour, or you can schedule for the week, and everything is always freshly cooked. Free shipping with no minimum order and delivery not only to the office but also to the employee’s house.

On the other hand, we will also launch Catevering at home, (Business Catering line) Breakfast Boxes, Lunchboxes, Afterwork Boxes, so that companies can send catering to the homes of their employees who are teleworking simultaneously for virtual meetings, training, teambuilding, or conventions. We want to maintain that experience that unites the teams of companies through gastronomy, now taking it where the employee is.

Both of the above lines of business are the result of the reinvention of our model due to the pandemic. However, we continue to maintain our line of traditional catering for meetings, big events, conferences, although now with the entire product individualized, not in trays, to maintain social distancing.

Food in the workplace was always seen as “just a necessity” before, but there are studies suggesting that this is no longer true. Food is increasingly being seen as a way to elevate employee experience (including hyper-personalization, health, and wellness, etc.). Do you agree? Are you seeing this trend in your clients?

Absolutely. Food as a benefit for employees has been implemented a few years ago by Human Resources departments and companies to retain talent and increase the productivity of their teams in the company.

Several surveys have been done to different employees of many companies which ensure that ‘Lunch as a Benefit’ improves talent retention, encourages team building, generates better company culture, increases performance, motivates the team, strengthens the company’s brand, and definitely you will have happy employees.

On the other hand, not only has food become another benefit, but individual customization according to intolerances, nutrition and tastes of employees has become essential for the company.

Previously in terms of food/catering, all companies and employees were treated equally. Now, hyper-personalization is required for each individual, and therefore technology is needed to be able to meet this requirement. In models such as Catevering, technology is the central axis, and represents the future and the solution of corporate catering in my opinion.