The brave new post-COVID world of office food

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It’s hard to think of modern office life without food: the communal coffee pot in the morning, the candy jars and treats tables, the pizzas and boxes of doughnuts, the birthday cakes and trays of bagels, the kitchen buffets where workers assemble sandwiches or plates of pasta or Indian food before scurrying back to their desks. Not to mention the corporate cafeteria.

In the past few months of quarantine, most offices have sat empty, but they’re going to have to reopen someday, and when they do, the food component will have to be changed for everybody’s safety. CNN has taken a look into the future of office food and seen that it contains... a lot of boxes.

Several of the companies CNN spoke to said that they would continue to offer daily lunch to their employees and snacks throughout the day, but everything would be served in individual boxes that could be picked up at a distribution station. Instead of the coffee pot, some companies plan to distribute gift cards that employees can use at nearby coffee shops. EzCater, described as “a corporate catering marketplace,” has seen a fivefold increase in business since late March and recently introduced an app called Relish that allows workers to order takeout from certain restaurants, subsidized by their employers.

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And then there is Sally, the salad-preparing robot. Pre-pandemic, Sally was primarily used as a last resort after the cafeteria closed. But now Rick Wimer, the CEO of Chowbotics, the company that manufactures Sally, says that many companies are considering using the robot to replace their salad bars and inquiries have quadrupled in June compared to April and May. What fun times we’ll all have if we ever get back to the office.