The Leader Magazine

SEP 2017

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36 SEPTEMBER 2017 ThE lEadER F E A T U R E A R T I C L E Good food, good service, good company: a new view of corporate dining Good food, good service, good company: a new view of corporate dining by Mark Freeman E very day at Microsoft, almost 50,000 employees and other guests dine at more than 90 on-campus venues at our Puget Sound headquarters in Redmond, Washington. Their options range from full-service, locally branded restaurants to dozens of 24-hour markets, full-service restaurants, a pub, cafés, outdoor kiosks, food trucks, and kitchenette pantries. Almost everything we serve is cooked fresh and locally sourced, and each aspect of the dining experience has been carefully thought out to help our employees be as productive, social, or relaxed as they wish over a meal. It's a far cry from where we were a decade ago. Now a highly desirable and prominent part of the Microsoft work- place, our dining program has transformed from an average source of corporate food into a core function of workplace satisfaction. Our path to reinventing dining has included new practices such as trans- parent food purchasing, preparation and sourcing; partnerships with local restaurants and celebrity chefs; and the adoption of retail-dining trends and technologies. Together, these changes have captured the minds, hearts (and stomachs) of employees and guests, and contrib- ute greatly to our employees' satisfaction and productivity. How it's made, where it grows – it all matters Employees need to eat, but simply opening cans and reheating foods at an onsite cafeteria isn't enough. People care about what they eat, how it's made, and where it comes from. They enjoy local retail markets and restaurants, and ask for corporate food destinations and services that refl ect a healthful, varied, and eco-friendly food ethic. Our fi rst step to meeting these expectations was to rethink the source ingredients and preparation processes. Seven years ago, we launched what I call our "Culinary Revolution," in which we began making as much food as possible from scratch and moved the task of food preparation out into full view of employees and guests. It required restructuring the kitchen to incorporate a brigade system, whereby we had specifi c people assigned to specifi c tasks, just as you would see in a traditional hotel kitchen.

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