Tales from Everlaw’s Food Czar

Wondering how we won a “Best and Brightest Company to Work For” award? Here’s a peek at how our office runs, in the words of our own Food Czar.

 

As an office manager, I have a variety of ever-changing job functions, and one with an immediate impact on office morale is food ordering. It’s hard to overstate food’s ability to affect our mood and productivity, which is why it is such hot topic — among small startups and large corporations alike. Google’s vast array of on-campus food options is the stuff of legend, but even relatively modest offerings can boost employee morale, retention and recruitment.

Luckily for me, the Everlaw office is located in the heart of Berkeley, a city that sits at a gastronomically fortuitous intersection of two disruptive forces.  The first is the Berkeley foodie culture, which has pioneered healthy, ethical, and delicious eating since the 1960s — a time when most of America thought Pop-Tarts and Doritos were the Next Big Thing. That, coupled with the Bay Area’s relentless pursuit of finding creative solutions for everyday problems, means that I actually have it pretty easy when it comes to procuring good food for our legal tech office.

 

Snacks

When it comes to snacks, everyone at Everlaw agrees on reliably popular items such as protein bars, mixed nuts, and fresh fruit.  The main challenge is weighing personal preferences against cost efficiency.  When it comes to fruit, one person cannot get enough of blueberries, while another constantly wants more bananas.  Some are adamant that our fruit be organic and fair trade, while others are not.  Apples and oranges are easy to find from any vendor; lychees and guavas, not so much.

In one recent example of this in action, I e-mailed the team on my way to the store — to see what kinds of nuts they wanted in our pantry. I immediately received over a Nuts as Office Snacksdozen responses: requests ranged from mainstays like cashews, walnuts, and almonds to more exotic fare like macadamias, Brazil nuts, and filberts.  As if the sheer variety of requests was not enough, everyone had an opinion on whether the nuts should be salted or unsalted, organic or conventional, roasted or raw, and so on.  Reading the responses on my phone, I couldn’t help but cackle to myself at the store.

After some experimentation, I found that rotating among a few vendors was the best way to fulfill Everlaw’s needs:

  • Costco Business Delivery for bulk foods that keep well, like protein bars and cereal,
  • Local grocer Berkeley Bowl for an unparalleled mix of organic produce and nuts; and
  • Quick trips to the nearby Trader Joe’s for miscellaneous cravings like plantain chips and dark chocolate peanut butter cups.

Making a grocery list is the easiest part: I simply share a Google Sheet with the team and requests immediately cascade in.

 

Team Lunches

In addition to a stocked pantry and fridge, Everlaw employees also enjoy a team lunch every Friday.  We like to use Caviar, an online delivery service that partners with local restaurants to offer staples like pizza and Chinese food, but also more interesting dishes like sushirritos and gourmet French potato puffs.

Having near-instant access to dozens of restaurants was exciting but paralyzing.  In the BC (Before Clair) years, a randomly-generated “Council” of three Everlaw employees would decide each week’s team meal. Sometimes the process was quick and easy, but more often than not, they would expend precious work time trying to come to an agreement.

Within a few weeks of joining the company, I was dubbed “Food Czar” and tasked with an overhaul of the decision-making process.  To take individual tastes into account without devolving into chaos, I formulated a simple solution with SurveyMonkey. I asked the team to rank each restaurant offered by Caviar; after eliminating the restaurants with no number one votes, fourteen restaurants remained. With one 5-minute survey, we were set for lunch choices for the next three-and-a-half months!

 

As Everlaw continues to grow, it will become harder to weigh individual preferences against efficient use of time, money, and shelf space.  Still, I’m confident that as the needs of quickly-growing companies like ours evolve, there will always be innovators who rise to the challenge of finding tastier and more efficient ways to keep us nourished.

If your office doesn’t already offer free snacks and meals, hopefully I’ve convinced you that it’s actually quite easy to do so!

 

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