How many times have you made sure to eat a proper breakfast, dodged cake at morning tea, had a salad for lunch and turned down a beer with it only to hit the wall mid-afternoon and wandered off in search of a vending machine?
It happens more than you might think. While we often make sound food choices with set meals and especially at home, pressure from deadlines, unfamiliar spaces and looking for food when we’re hungry means many good plans can go for naught – except when it comes to our waistlines, particularly in winter.
KPMG’s recent office move of 2500 people to Barangaroo in Sydney is not just a change of address, but an opportunity to put some old habits to rest and, for myself, a chance to work with the team behind the move to test out some innovative approaches to snacking in the office.
Not only have we swapped our old, low-rise office for one with much more natural light, fresh air and open space, we’ve also opened up our internal kitchens to better look after staff as well as clients, with a shake-up of the foods and snacks we offer on-site through the lens of nutrition and, shall we say, ability to satisfy.
Since joining KPMG last year, I’ve been working closely with our in-house Executive Chef, Ian McKenzie, who knows his way around both tricky palates and eating with performance in mind. After beginning his career in the British Navy, Ian was posted to the royal yacht Britannia, where he cooked for the Royal Family including The Queen, Princess Di and Prince Charles.
He’s looked at our efforts to provide healthier choices for staff in our Barangaroo office, and risen to the challenge. In fact, he’s been right behind developing a whole new attitude to food, which we’ll be progressively rolling out over the next year.
Working with a nutritionist, the concept of ‘performance nutrition’ is beginning to shape how our kitchen works – with a goal of maximising good fats and increasing our offerings of fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables.
For our ‘Hubs’, we’ve started having fresh fruit delivered every other day, and at present more than 5000 pieces of fresh fruit are delivered for our people to eat each week. In place of biscuits, of which we once used to eat more than 40 kilos per week – literally a never-ending packet of Tim Tams – we now munch through nearly 50 kilos of raw nuts in three blends, which provide dense nutrition, extra fibre, protein and healthy fats. Everyone has really warmed to them.
More importantly, snacks like nuts really help beat back hunger, which is something you don’t get from a packet of crisps or a chocolate bar. This vicious cycle of unsatisfying snacking has been the main factor in our decision not to include junk food vending machines here at our new office. Stay tuned for what we have in mind to replace them.
Food and movement have a huge relationship to performance, and in an agile workplace, we can stimulate productivity and creativity not just by the physical environment and its use, but the foods we consume.
For years, the quality of KPMG’s hospitality and kitchen has helped build its relationships with clients. Now, in the new Barangaroo kitchen, it will help food become a driver of productivity and creativity for both KPMG people and our clients.