CATERING A MEETING: TOP TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR TEAM HAPPY
The team that meets together keeps together… Right? Well, not exactly. Anyone who’s been to a poorly planned meeting knows just how much things can drag when things go wrong. Moreover, a bad meeting starts to feel like it’s wasting time that could be better spent doing “real work” – and you know you’ve done badly when people are sat fantasising about working.
There’s no need for your meeting to fall into this trap, though, and with these simple tips, you can guarantee your rendezvous was one people were happy to leave their desk for.
1. Start and finish on time
Don’t keep people waiting for no reason! You wouldn’t show up late for a dinner date, so treat your colleagues with the same respect. Set a start time and stick to it. If there are still stragglers yet to show up, forget them – they can get caught up later. No need to punish those who came on time!
The same goes for ending your meeting: keep things short and sweet, and don’t impinge on people’s schedules. There’s work to do, emails to send – and most importantly, lunch!
2. Keep people caffeinated
This goes doubly so for morning meetings: if your meeting is before 10AM, you’re going to need tea and coffee on the table if you’re expecting to get any good work done. The same is true for just after lunch when the blood rushes to your stomach to get everything digested, leaving the brain to flounder on its own, and for the end of the day when a strong black coffee is pretty much essential to carry you through that last half an hour before knocking off.
Don’t skimp on quality either – we’ve all moved on from individual plastic sachets of freeze-dried pebbles of instant coffee. If your staff wouldn’t want to drink it on their break, they’re probably not going to want it in a meeting either. Find some good quality beans – these days, it’s easier than ever to get 100% Arabica.
For example, we use a blend of Brazilian, Costa Rican, and Indonesian coffee beans, roasted by Limini in West Yorkshire. They only use premium Arabica, meaning it’s in the top 5% of coffee beans in the world, and have a low-carbon roaster for an eco-friendly cuppa.
3. Think through your food
Good food can make or break a meeting – never leave people sat starving, especially if it’s just before breakfast or lunch. But that said, you need to find the right bite for the job.
A meeting won’t achieve much if everyone’s mouth is too full to speak, so nothing too enormous, or chewy. A massive burger or a plate of rubbery escargot are obvious no-go’s. Instead, try bite-sized mini ciabattas – a couple on a plate will still fill your stomach, but without an enormous gob-full getting in your way.
Likewise, you’re not going to want anything messy. Noodles might be popular, but winding them around your fork is bound to be distracting from the task at hand, if not embarrassing. Fumbling to pick up a piece of sushi with a pair of chopsticks is just as likely to take people’s minds off what you’re actually there to do. Simple nibbles and canapés are much better. Go for a straightforward bamboo skewer with something delicious on, some mozzarella, a little chorizo – all flavour, no faff.
4. Respect dietary requirements
Meetings are meant to bring your team together – but if you’ve forgotten to include one person, you might end up having the opposite effect. One disgruntled member of staff with an empty stomach isn’t going to kill the whole team’s productivity, but little things add up.
Keep a list of everyone’s dietary needs so you can easily put together a spread – someone in HR might have one already.
If you’re not sure, you can always err on the side of caution by including some options without meat, gluten, etc. That doesn’t have to mean depressing dry crackers – it’s amazing how people’s opinions on food change once it’s labelled “vegetarian” or “gluten-free”. A cheese and onion quiche is a fan favourite with veggies and meat-eaters alike, and no-one’s missing gluten in a prosciutto and Emmental brochette.
Try to over-represent the dietary food: remember that a meat-eater can eat veggie, but not vice-versa! And if you’re catering the right vegetarian food, the carnivores are sure to want some. Leaning towards more dietary-friendly food is usually the best way to go, and with good-quality food, no-one is likely to complain.
5. Stay healthy!
When you’re trying to keep people’s spirits up in a meeting, it can be tempting to go straight for easy, feel-good junk food, but remember: you’ve got a job to do, and your team need brain food. The right office catering can make all the difference.
Natural products, simply prepared, with plenty of fresh fruit will keep your team in tip-top condition and makes sure not to exclude the dieters among you. There’s no reason you can’t get quality food delivered just as easily as junk – the demand for fresh, healthy, real food is bigger than ever, and there are tons of companies out there ready to bring a proper lunch straight to your office.
Besides, fast food might taste good to start with, but that lingering greasy smell is going to get tiresome for the next half an hour you’re left to sit in it. Fresh, quality food will taste good, look good, and won’t leave your team groggy and bloated.
That said, there’s no reason you can’t have a treat: everything in moderation, and a few mini cheesecakes or French macarons will never go amiss.