If you’re anything like me, you’ll have found the last 12 months a deeply troubling experience. Now, no-one is going to argue that pandemics and lockdowns are good things – they are not. But it got me thinking; is there anything positive we can take away from this experience? Better yet, can we make any lifestyle changes that will make the future even better and brighter still?

The problem with pandemics

It is no secret that every pandemic that has ever occurred eventually fizzled out. Yet, when you’re living through one it can feel like there is no end in sight. This lack of clarity about an ‘end date’ can produce a fatalism in us, where we start to believe that there is nothing to look forward to. A bit of perspective can help us cut through this. Life will come back, and we have an opportunity to return wiser and better prepared.

Getting comfortable with discomfort

If there’s one thing that I’ve tried hard to do in this year it is to enjoy the journey. We’re so used to having defined goals in life – people to see, holidays to go on, schedules to maintain and so on. Living without these fixed points can be uncomfortable and but must become adept at living with this. One powerful tool is not to fixate on the end result but instead to be more present and learn to love the process. We must seek out our internal motivators.

Decoding our motivation

We often think of motivation in terms of external things (carrots and sticks). Yet the evidence suggests that internal motivators are far more powerful. The three key internal motivators are:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Mastery
  3. Purpose

Working from home has brought us far more autonomy over our own schedules. This begs the question: how should we use our time? It would be even better if we could use this newfound autonomy to achieve a sense of purpose and mastery.

The pandemic has shone a spotlight on mental and physical wellbeing. For many of us, improving our wellbeing has become a source of purpose. Understanding how to do this and making incremental changes will take us ever closer to mastery. Before we know it, we’ve ticked off all three big internal motivators. This is powerful stuff, and we should pay close attention to it as we return to normal.

Food: An Incredible Opportunity

Food is incredibly powerful (but then I would say that!). It links to many important aspects of life. From mental and physical wellbeing to socialising and fostering genuine interaction. All of which are so important at the moment.

For me, eating a home cooked meal with the family every night during lockdown was transformative. We all looked forward to the uninterrupted time to nourish ourselves, laugh, chat and make plans. Walking away from dinner we were healthier and happier.

Building time for food into our schedule (autonomy) in order to serve our goals of wellbeing and connection with others (purpose) is crucial. Learning new skills in the kitchen and deepening our understanding of where our food comes from (mastery) can prove to be very motivating.

The Future of Food at Work

The trends of flexible working and a focus on wellbeing are here to stay. We have the opportunity to take advantage of these two things and put food right at the top of the agenda, both personally and professionally.

When we return to work, I would like to see individuals and organisations recognise the impact that food can have on the health of people and the planet. Not only is this important but it is incredibly rewarding.

FM and workplace professionals have a unique opportunity to work with foodservice providers and their supply chains to create a world where food is not a simple commodity but a vehicle for real change.

Conclusion

The last 12 months have been tough, but they have allowed us to think more deeply about the importance of health, wellbeing and the role of food. We know that flexible working will afford us more autonomy in the future. We have an opportunity to use that autonomy to make food a priority for us – particularly at work. Not only will this be rewarding but we can create lasting change for our health and our planet.

At bartlett mitchell we are proud to be a sustainable and innovative caterer. We are committed to helping our clients power their businesses through great food – no matter their approach post-pandemic. We have recently launched Mosaic, a plug and play catering offer which allows clients access to great food coffee and service without the obligation of a contract. You can find details here.

We love to chat. If you’d like to catch up about the future of food at work, please get in touch.

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