Courtesy of Fooda
Fooda connects restaurants in 20 markets across the U.S. with offices, healthcare organizations and more that need a new approach to providing food to employees.

Can Food and Beverage Amenities Draw People Back to the Office? (IFMA 2023)

Sept. 28, 2023
While offices consider return-to-work mandates, some are incentivizing people to come back to the office with food and beverage amenities. These four amenity providers shared their approaches at IFMA’s 2023 World Workplace conference and expo.

While office tenants mull return-to-work mandates, some are approaching their low occupancy from a different angle—incentivizing people to come back. One way to do that is to provide high-quality food and beverage amenities that people can’t easily duplicate at home.

These four amenity providers shared their approaches to incentivizing office returns at IFMA’s 2023 World Workplace conference and expo.

Fooda: Connecting Restaurants and Foodies

Available in 20 markets, Fooda is a service that connects local restauranteurs with offices, healthcare organizations and more who want to change how they provide food to employees. The company’s offerings range from easy-to-manage pop-up restaurants—in which the restaurants prepare the food in their own kitchens and bring it to your building at lunch—to replacing your existing multi-station cafeteria with a food hall that can also include stations operated by local restaurants.

“From the smallest scale to the largest scale where we operate full cafeteria programs, we’re finding that food at work is becoming a really important driver for the employees to be on-site,” explained Stafford McKay, vice president of marketing and communications for Fooda.

Partner organizations don’t need a commercial kitchen, and visiting restaurants take care of cleanup when they visit for pop-ups. The experience is designed to be fun for foodies and hassle-free for building owners and operators.

“Food brings people together,” McKay said. “You can be sitting in front of your laptop on your couch alone or in your cubicle alone, but when it’s time for lunch, that’s where the difference is. That’s where the social aspect is of being on-site. If you have exciting food that people look forward to eating every day, you’re going to naturally and organically attract people on-site. There’s something about breaking bread with someone that’s absolutely critical to building community—and rebuilding your workplace community.”

Royal Cup Coffee and Tea: Full-Service Beverage Management

Royal Cup Coffee and Tea is a full-service coffee and tea provider. Facilities teams never have to worry about restocking creamer or maintaining brewing equipment—Royal Cup takes care of it for you.

“It takes the busy work out of the hands of those who could probably spend their time doing other things,” said Colin Ogg, regional account manager for Royal Cup. “We take as much time as needed to manage your inventory, so you don’t have to.”

The company will oversee your supply of coffee, tea, cups, lids, sweeteners and creamers, and also services your equipment to make sure it’s running optimally.

VendiBean: Your In-House Barista

Beverage technology company VendiBean offers barista-quality espresso drinks dispensed from a vending machine that grinds the beans fresh. The machine can make mochas, cortados, lattes and more and uses the company’s own blends for milk, coconut milk, oat milk, French vanilla, cocoa and chai.

“We started the company because we saw a huge gap in office space. We thought there wasn’t really a solution that targeted the modern generation of the workforce who happens to like the quality and standard of coffee we’re all so used to, plus the functionality to withstand volume for large corporate campuses,” said Teal Cooper, co-founder and president.

The unit needs only power and water—everything else is contained in the machine, which holds roughly five times as much product as a countertop coffee machine, Cooper said. It also includes smart tech features to make management easier.

“It will send notifications to the people managing the machine when it’s running low on inventory, needs to be cleaned, or needs maintenance,” Cooper noted. “There’s a back-end dashboard where companies can see live metrics of the machine, like their inventory, cups vended or how much product they’re going through. It helps project ordering and makes the whole process hands-off and seamless.”

Bevi: Stop Wasting Bottles and Cans

Bevi is a smart water cooler that provides still, sparkling and flavored water on demand. For offices that normally stock bottled water or canned sparkling water, Bevi can replace those orders with one space-saving solution that delivers customizable drinks. Owners can choose several flavors to stock from a menu of 13, and the units can also offer three enhancements (caffeine, vitamin boosts and electrolytes).

“People love the unit, and they love seeing what flavors have been added to the unit,” said Sylvana Chantre, lead territory sales manager for Bevi. “You see employee attendance back in office rise because people want to see what’s new with Bevi.”

Most models of cups, water bottles and Hydroflasks can fit in Bevi’s generously sized filling area. The company offers a full-service model where technicians service, clean and sanitize the machine, so it won’t add to the already jam-packed schedules of facilities teams. The unit can also help organizations tell a broader sustainability story, something the Bevi team holds dear.

“Some offices create so much waste with bottles and cans,” Chantre said. “As a company, we’ve saved over 400 million bottles and cans from going into landfills. Every Bevi machine displaces up to 30,000 bottles and cans in a year, so just adding one to the office can really make a difference in terms of sustainability.”

About the Author

Janelle Penny | Editor-in-Chief at BUILDINGS

Janelle Penny has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with a special emphasis on covering facilities management. She aims to deliver practical, actionable content for facilities professionals.

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