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Workplace Food Trends in a Post-Pandemic World

The latest in markets, vending, office coffee and refreshments.

Workplace Food Trends in a Post-Pandemic World

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The global pandemic has changed so much about our daily lives. While we are still very much in the midst of it, it is bound to have even more of an impact on the future. One thing we know for sure is that the pandemic has redefined what “living healthfully” means. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, most people associated healthy living with eating right and exercising. Now, living a healthy lifestyle encompasses a much broader sense, with a focus on overall well-being, mental health, and preventive health. 

Our work lives have seen the most change this year, and the workplace definitely looks different. New safety and health protocols have been implemented in all offices, and for those employees who are back at work and no longer working from home, feeling safe at work during a global pandemic will remain a priority for months to come.  

With all of these changes in mind, the way employees eat and snack at work will have to adapt as well. Here is a rundown of some of the trends that are coming down the pike as we head into 2021 and hopefully, into a post-Covid world.

Coffee trends

What’s a workplace without coffee? Pandemic nor not, coffee will always remain a staple of the office but the ways in which it is purchased and consumed are changing. Sustainability continues to be a trend for coffee consumers with coffee-aficionados concerned with issues of packaging, reducing waste, and supporting coffee companies that source, roast, and distribute their products in sustainable and responsible ways. 

While they’ve always been popular, we will see a greater emphasis on single-serve coffee systems. Single-serve is the second-most popular brewing method after drip, and research has shown that younger consumers are less comfortable brewing coffee, and prefer single-serve options. With all of the Covid precautions in the workplace, single-serve coffee is viewed as more sanitary and safe, and ready-to-drink bottled coffee beverages have become even more popular. This trend will likely continue well into 2021 and beyond. 

As part of the movement toward healthier lifestyles, many consumers are seeking out foods and beverages that offer healing or nutritional benefits. Many in the food industry have been fortifying their products with added health benefits such as protein or antioxidants, but the coffee industry has been slower to adapt to this change, as coffee has always been focused on being pure or natural. But now, as there is much more focus on disease prevention and health, coffee companies may want to consider figuring out how they can improve upon coffee’s already proven health benefits with added ingredients. 

Snacks and Convenience Foods

With more families eating at home and less time dining out in restaurants, the Covid-19 pandemic has made consumers more aware of what they eat and its impact on how they feel and their immunity. More Americans are reading food labels and choosing more carefully what ingredients are in their foods, especially when it comes to pre-packaged snacks and convenience foods. For example, the popularity of baking bread from scratch during quarantine has consumers much more aware of the ingredients used in the packaged versions. Once they do return to the office, these same employees will want to continue their new healthy habits, so providing healthy, wholesome snack and convenience meal options at work will be important. 

Under the cloud of Covid-19, consumers are reevaluating their health and adjusting their nutrition goals. They are much more interested in choosing immunity-strengthening foods. As we move into the new year, expect to see to see more plant-based foods, such as whole grains. There will also be more interest in foods that contain added Vitamin C and other supplements that can boost immunity. 

To keep up with these new trends, workplaces will need to offer an assortment of snack and convenience food options that are healthier and made from more wholesome ingredients. Think less chips and candy, and more granola, dried fruit, and nuts. 

Contactless Break Rooms and Micro Markets

Some companies are still allowing employees to work from home, but many have brought back employees to the office, whether in a hybrid model or on varying schedules. A return to the office has forced companies to adapt to new ways of working that make employee health and safety the number one priority. Distanced work stations, plexiglass, frequent disinfecting of surfaces, and new ways of working that require minimal contact are the new norms. Keeping employees safe at work means minimal contact with the outside world, so dining out at lunch or running out to grab a to-go order may not be possible. Employees may need to stay in the office for lunch breaks, so providing quick grab-and-go meals, snacks and fresh foods through either fresh food vending options or micro markets is now not just a nice perk but a necessity.

With Americans’ new focus on fresher, whole foods, a shift from traditional snack-only vending machines to fresh food micro markets will be the trend into 2021 and into a post-Covid workplace. Companies will want to offer a better variety of snacks and grab-and-go meals for workers who have become much more conscious of ingredients in their food. Providing fresh meal options such as pre-made salads and sandwiches, and healthier snacks like yogurt, nuts, and fruit will be more popular in the coming months. Open cafeterias and crowded break rooms won’t be possible with Covid restrictions, so providing meal alternatives that are packaged individually and still healthy, and that employees can grab and eat at their work stations safely, is crucial right now and for the foreseeable future. 

Pre-Covid, GlobalConnect® was already an innovator in contactless breakroom solutions. Touch-free options for coffee machines, vending machines, and more can help protect workers and reduce the number of areas that will need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Through GlobalConnect’s touchless breakroom solutions, employees can use their Smartphones to make selections and purchase coffee, beverages, snacks and convenience meals.

The ways in which employees eat at work will continue to evolve as the pandemic plays out in the coming months, but employee health and safety will still remain the top priority. Companies that can adapt to these changes and provide employees with options that give them peace of mind during these uncertain times will continue to flourish and retain good employees even after Covid is just a bad memory. 

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