Corporate catering company ZeroCater announced today the national rollout of its new Cloud Cafe digital app. Cloud Cafe adds customizable subsidy functionality for employers and features personalized meal recommendations for employees.
Founded n 2009, ZeroCater partners with more than 450 food partners including commissary kitchens, cafeterias and restaurants to deliver meals and snacks to corporate offices.
You’d be forgiven if your first reaction to this news is, Wait, are there still enough people going into offices to justify office meal catering? There are big questions around what the future of office work will look like post-COVID, especially since vaccines are now (knocks on wood) on the horizon. But Cloud Cafe seems built for the gradual and eventual return to working in an office as this pandemic recedes.
Part of preparing for a post-pandemic office environment is the new sliding subsidy ZeroCaters Cloud Cafe now offers. With this feature, employers can choose how much or how little they want to pay for a worker’s lunch. This type of flexibility is beneficial for a company that can’t afford to have an on-site cafeteria but wants to offer something more than a vending machine to staff. Partial subsidies could provide a way to help attract and retain talent without breaking the bank.
But ZeroCater also says it can help employees get the most out of the meals they choose through its smart recommendations system. ZeroCater’s FoodIQ keeps track of your dietary needs and preferences to make meal recommendations. FoodIQ also lets you rate dishes and keeps track of all of this data for every employee to make better targeted food recommendations in the future. ZeroCater believes that if workers do have to come into the office, having better meals provided will translate into more satisfied employees.
The future of office work is still very much in the air and companies are figuring out how many of their employees will be remote. One idea emerging involves working from home and satellite offices spread out across the country. Instead of coming in all day every day, workers would come into the office certain days of the week.
ZeroCater isn’t alone in trying to navigate office lunches of a post-COVID workplace. Byte Technologies, which makes smart fridges, also pitches customizable subsidies with its smart fridge platform as a cost-effective means of getting office workers fresh food.
People may not be coming back to the office in droves quite yet, but ZeroCater is laying the groundwork for when they do and life gets back to normal.