No free lunch

More and more of the companies I meet are serving lunch to their teams, either every day or 2-3 times per week. Some may think this is a bull market phenomenon, triggered by the need to compete with companies like Google and Facebook, who still serve the best cafeteria breakfasts and lunches I’ve ever seen. I don’t think that's the case. Company leadership has evolved to recognize the many benefits of the “free lunch”. I believe there’s no free lunch in this world, but the lunches served to tech employees are anything but free. Among the many benefits:

Culture and team building: Eating lunch together is a regular opportunity for employees to bond and connect outside of the startup hustle. This is incredibly valuable and helps promote strong teams.

Productivity gains: Studies show that leaving the office in big cities for lunch costs the company much more in productivity than the 30 minutes it takes to eat. When a team member leaves the office for lunch, they likely lose some concentration and require time to refocus when they return. To the extent this person is interacting with other team members before or after lunch, the distraction has ripple effects through the office. Keeping people around the office maximizes productivity.

Healthful living: Filling the body with healthy and nourishing food leads to higher energy levels, faster metabolism, better focus and weight control. It also reduces the risk of all sorts of complications that can arise from improper eating. Watching and protecting your team’s fuel intake keeps a company’s engines finely tuned.

Hosting guests: Office lunches create opportunity for employees to invite their friends from other companies to visit the office, not to mention opportunity for management to invite interesting and relevant people to address the team. This goes a long way with recruiting and building a sense of corporate culture.

Lunches are an expense and I’m certain some investors push back on the concept to preserve cash, but I think in the long run, when done right, they deliver a positive ROI. And that’s a good thing for companies like ZeroCater who are stepping in to fill this growing market.