Creating a Hybrid Work Friendly Conference Room | ACCESS THE NEW REPORT →
(Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

Exotic Cuisine Is Bringing Employees Back to the Office

Bahn mi replacing bagels as go-to in the break room

If you’re reading this story at your work desk, perhaps you’re shoveling a shredded pork burrito bowl in your mouth, courtesy of your employer.

Upscale free lunches are the latest perk being offered by companies to lure workers back to the office, the Wall Street Journal reported. While bagels and pizza were office staples for years, employers have gotten more creative as a means of incentivizing employees.

Workers interviewed by the publication expressed their interest in heading into the office on days where an intriguing meal was being served up. The more popular lunches included bahn mi sandwiches, shredded pork burrito bowls, toasted flatbreads and buffalo chicken wraps.

Ali Sabeti, chief executive of corporate catering firm Zerocater, noted that clients in advertising, warehousing and financial services were among those pulling out all of the stops on the lunch perk train.

More than half of businesses surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management provided free snacks and beverages to employees as of February. In 2019, fewer than a third reportedly did.

Some employers were disappointed that other ideas didn’t bring workers back into the office, such as random drawing of Amazon gift cards and requiring in-person meetings. Ultimately, food proved to be the strongest motivator.

Employers need all the help they can get. It took until June of this year for office occupancy to push past 40 percent in New York City since the onset of the pandemic, according to the Kastle Back to Work Barometer. But that level of engagement didn’t last. The most recent figure fell to 38 percent, according to The City.

Image - Design