A furtive employee scurries down the old maintenance access steps to a deserted corridor, lit only by a flickering halogen bulb. In the intermittent darkness he makes out a faint neon glow, accompanied by a familiar hum.

There stands a menacing machine, layered in the arcane iconography of energy drink brands. Scrabbling for change, he produces his coins, and wakes the beast, who grudgingly produces a bumper sized chocolate bar and a can of lurid fizz…

OK so the dated B-movie intro was for dramatic effect, but it’s hard to believe classic vending machines are still rife in today’s office corridors and cafeterias (though the ambient lighting is invariably better). These machines are the drug dealers of the workplace, distributing chemically-laced sweets and caffeine highs to the precious workforce. The types of products dispensed by vending machines do little for concentration in the short-term, and their long-term health implications are even worse.

Let’s talk alternatives

Employees deserve more than an overpriced sugar rush – and so fresh produce wins every time. Nuts, fresh fruit and other natural treats provide health benefits and long-lasting energy boosts. Consider replacing caffeine and fizzy drinks with juices, smoothies, herbal teas, and coconut water. Natural sources of energy enhance employee wellbeing, concentration and productivity – everyone wins.

And there’s more…

There really is so much more. Remove vending machines and workplaces immediately open up a dialogue about the what, why and where of eating in the office. Snacking in the workplace can be so much more than a means to an end. Encourage employees to eat together in a communal space, rather than shoot up on Pepsi – and see what comes out of it.

Is there a secret baker in the IT department who would enjoy getting opinions on his latest creations? Are there a handful of vegetarians who fancy a lunch-swap programme? What about a monthly cookery course for employees to take together? Employees who eat together will swap ideas, foster relationships, and ultimately work better together.

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