How to create a healthy office food environment.

No more hanger.

By Jay Jackson

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Have you ever felt hangry? You are hungry and growing hungrier, which makes you feel frustrated, irritable, angry. It’s clear, food can have an impact on mood, concentration and energy levels and wellbeing more generally. But what does this mean for employers?

Employees spend a huge amount of their waking time in the office. Research from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) shows the average British worker will put in 34 hours and 26 minutes of work a week, totalling 1,791 hours a year, and 84,171 hours in the course of their career.

Most employees will eat at least one of their meals in the office and for some there will be occasions when they eat all three there, and then there are the snacks. But sometimes food is an after-thought.

There are so many factors at play when it comes to the role food plays on our wellbeing, aside from taste and nutrition. There is the time it takes to prepare or buy food and then eat meals, the cost of the ingredients, the amount of effort involved in cooking and cleaning up. When it comes to eating at work you can argue that these are just as important as the actual food.

Whilst we can’t magically transform the entire culture of office food, there are some simple steps that can be taken to improve the lifestyle and wellbeing of people in our nation’s organisations.

Plexal, a coworking space and innovation centre in London and one of our clients, is an expert when it comes to creating effective, modern workplaces, and the team understand the importance of food at work and taking a break. “I’m insistent that my team take a lunch break every single day,” says Ecosystem Manager, Hannah Cookson. “Taking an hour away from your desk helps reset your mind and makes you ready to take on the afternoon with a fresh mindset. I also encourage my team to take time away from their desks in the morning to make breakfast or just to take a walk and have a moment to breathe.”

Plexal Healthy Office Food

Plexal Coworking Space

Make food interesting

Why is this important? Well on a moral level we should all want our staff, colleagues and employees to be as happy and healthy as possible, but from a capitalist standpoint it just makes good business sense.

“I think whatever you eat impacts your mood and your productivity,” says Hannah. “It is so easy to reach for a fizzy drink when you get that afternoon slump, but we all know after the high comes the crash! As a team we are 80% healthy and 20% treats…I’ve honestly never met so many water guzzlers in my life!”

You are what you eat isn’t just a cliché, fatigue, irritability, decreased energy levels, fuzzy thinking, stress, depression and lower levels of productivity have all been linked to poor nutrition.

Healthy vending options provide such a simple and effective solution. This is especially true for people who don’t work a standard 9am to 5pm, or prefer not to eat during their office’s regular lunch time.

They offer a healthy, convenient option for people at whatever hour of the day or night, allowing them to refuel whenever the fancy takes them.

Provide choice

It is natural to want a treat sometimes, as Hannah mentioned, so it is important to offer employees a choice.

With a little knowledge, employees can make more sound decisions and know what they are putting into their body. We ensure we include nutritional information for everything stocked in our machines, which has had an impact on employee efficiency (22% increase in productivity with smarter snacking).

“Mother offer something different to regular vending machines,” says Hannah. “I really want to ensure we have the right kind of snacks available and give our team the information they need to select what is right for them.”

Offer healthier options

Offering healthy options at work is becoming ever more popular. Gone are the days of simply providing a bacon roll and croissant – consumers have driven demand for more healthy options like fruit, granola bars and juices.

Plexal place a huge bowl of fresh fruit at reception for their members and staff to take. Hannah said, “This definitely makes our breakfast choices a lot healthier than they could be.”

This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for the old favourites. The point is to provide a wide range of food so people have the facts they need to make an informed decision.

“Mother offer something different to regular vending machines,” says Hannah. “I really want to ensure we have the right kind of snacks available and give our team the information they need to select what is right for them.”

We are incredibly passionate about health and wellbeing so it’s fantastic to be working with forward thinking organisations, like Plexal, to help them achieve their workplace goals and make a positive difference to their working environment. This is, simply, why we exist!

So, whether you want to take the first step towards improving your workplace environment, helping others to be healthy, or are simply looking for a more effective vending solution, Mother can help.

If you want to talk things through further, please get in touch. We'd love to support your office food goals.