UK Blog - Four Minute Read

Reigniting workplace culture through food

#ISS - South Quay Office (39)

ISS's Dan Corlett and Hannah Hughes explain how good food can enhance workplace culture

Building collaboration and culture, one meal at a time

At ISS, Dan Corlett and Hannah Hughes are responsible for bringing bespoke dining experiences to clients—and “earning the commute" of employees. They explain why good food is crucial to the post-pandemic workplace experience.

As people continue to adapt to hybrid working, explains ISS’s Head of Food Services Dan Corlett, one key driver helping to “earn the commute” of employees is the range and quality of in-office dining services. “Food is highly emotive, and it is a key enabler for people to come back into the workplace,” he says. “We need to provide great food—that is a given. But we need to offer flexibility as well.”

According to Dan's colleague Hannah Hughes, Marketing & Retail Concept Director at ISS, the marketplace’s changing needs mean that customers are informing the agenda for food services. “We know that the way consumers eat is different to how it was 18 or 24 months ago,” she says. “We demand our food when, where and how we want it.”

ISS’s expertise lies in helping employers meet this demand: “Because we have a niche understanding of what the customer is looking for, we are able to curate solutions—and make them relevant to our clients’ spaces.”

Fuelling “body, mind and soul” 

Adapting to the needs of individual clients, ISS’s tailored food service hubs range from coffee shops and cafeterias to fine dining restaurants and vending machines. The organisation is also increasingly looking towards newer solutions, says Dan, such as pop-up options, hot lockers, click-and-collect—and innovations to provide “fresh services 24/7, which is absolutely what some of our clients’ sectors need”. Meanwhile, restaurants are being adapted in a variety of ways, to provide users with both quiet areas and collaboration spaces.

Dan explains that in all cases, food—and how it is provided—can connect teams and support wider efforts to improve workplace culture. “The designs we are using now are based on choice and flexibility. That means creating amazing spaces that people want to spend time in,” he says. “Bringing the right food into the right environment, where people feel comfortable and inspired to collaborate, is so important in helping clients get their employees back to the workplace.”

Hannah also points to generational shifts in expectations around food in the workplace: “Sustainability, health and well-being are vital in the mindsets of younger generations, and their needs are changing how food is evolving.”

An increase in variety and the provision of more plant-based options are two examples of how this has influenced ISS’s offerings. “We know now that food is no longer just fuel: it feeds the body, mind and soul,” says Hannah. “We aim to create menu offerings that really support the customer—not purely from a health and well-being standpoint, but in a way that supports their diverse lifestyles.

Creating bespoke dining experiences 

According to Dan, better office experiences lead to greater job satisfaction and retention, and integrated food services can play an important part in this. As offices are reaffirmed as hubs for connection and collaboration post-pandemic, ISS is using data to understand the food consumers are buying and their dining experiences.

Reflecting on what the ISS team has learned as clients return to offices, Dan says: “When it comes to having a meal at work, time and cost are the biggest benefits for staying inside the office versus going out. There are great high street options, but if you have 30 minutes, then by the time you have chosen somewhere, ordered a meal and sat down to eat it—well, we can be competitive on time and cost.”

Hannah adds that people consider meals as much more than an opportunity for sustenance: “Consumers are looking for more of an occasion for eating. At the same time, following the ‘delivery revolution’ of the pandemic, people are expecting food to be more accessible.”

What does that mean for ISS? “We need to be operationally and commercially viable to both the marketplace and the consumer,” Hannah says. “We need to be totally relevant to wherever we provide our food.”

“Bringing the right food into the right environment is so important in helping clients get their employees back to the workplace.”

Dan Corlett, ISS Head of Food Services