With hybrid work options now an expectation for many employees, businesses are looking for better ways to incentivize on-site work — or soften the blow when going back to the office is mandatory. Appealing food options can go a long way.
Nestlé-owned meal solution Freshly, for one, announced the launch of B2B arm FreshlyWell, offering on-site and remote solutions for employers and a range of institutions. FreshlyWell Vice President Tom Futch explained in an interview with PYMNTS how the firm is taking advantage of companies’ need to draw consumers back into the office.
“Most all organizations are really focusing their efforts on getting folks back to work in some capacity,” he said. “We’re seeing a major shift to that area now and serving their populations and trying to do that in both an innovative way but also meet the needs of their clientele. We see that continuing for quite a while. We’re hearing the interest both from the food contract service companies, as well as the clients.”
The new twist on employee perks follows the launch of Freshly for Business in April, which Futch described as “an extension of our D2C business,” using the same home delivery model that the company applied to consumer delivery to allow employers to send meals to employees. The new FreshlyWell business, however, is more expansive, offering on-site shops, cafes and self-service fridges.
By the Numbers
The flexibility is key, given that many employees are working remotely or doing a hybrid of remote and on-site work, according to data from the February edition of PYMNTS Connected Economy
The study, which drew from a survey of roughly 2,500 U.S. adults, found that 65% of adults, which amounts to roughly 89 million, reported working remotely online in January. Specifically, 51% reported splitting their workdays between working remotely at home and working at the office. Fourteen percent, meanwhile, said they were exclusively working remotely, leaving only 35% of consumers going into work on site every day.
Futch argued that some of the business’s offerings are especially effective in verticals where remote or hybrid work isn’t an option.
“If you’re working in a manufacturing facility, and you only have 30 minutes to grab lunch, you don’t really have time to go outside to a restaurant in town,” Futch said. “You don’t [even] have time maybe to go across the street to the cafeteria.”
He added that, consequently, demand from businesses for on-site, self-service meal solutions is on the rise, hinting at “more options along those lines” to come in the future.
The Changing Face of the Cafeteria
In addition to these concerns, workplaces are seeking out more cost-effective meal solutions than the traditional cafeteria, given the high cost of maintaining these on-site facilities and keeping them staffed. So too are other businesses that might traditionally have a cafeteria, such as healthcare facilities, universities, senior care living establishments and more.
“They’re interested in how they can work with an organization that can consistently deliver a variety of meals to them that their clientele enjoys but also help them from a health and wellbeing perspective,” Futch explained.
He added that, even at institutions like colleges that typically have, say, a dining hall, there remains a demand for quick, nutritious, grab-and-go options as an alternative to on-site spaces for which it may be difficult to make time in the middle of a busy day.
The New Wellness
The name of the service comes as the trend of focusing on overall wellness continues both in consumers’ daily lives and in employees’ expectations of their workplaces. For instance, many businesses now offer perks such as meditation subscriptions and fitness benefits. Through this lens, offering food becomes a way for employers to demonstrate an interest in workers’ wellness.
Futch noted that the program comes in part as a result of businesses seeking out ways to “provide holistic nourishment” to employees and asking Freshly for solutions to “support” those employees “from a wellbeing … standpoint.”
“Food is at the central point of health and wellbeing from a foundational perspective,” Futch said. “I think healthcare is going to play a bigger role in this as we go forward in the future. … I think there are going to be more and more opportunities to be able to serve the broader healthcare needs in the country as we as a society look at ways that we can do that more effectively.”
For all PYMNTS B2B coverage, subscribe to the daily B2B Newsletter.