Exceptional EA


A thought for your day, with my good wishes …

Office Catering Practices: Weekend Poll Results

With thanks to all who are participating, here are the results of this past weekend’s poll. Our focus:

What’s the practice in your workplace with respect to catering internal meetings?

To host or not to host: While some organisations are considering or effecting practices to eliminate company-hosted catering for internal meetings, that’s not consistently the case.  In fact,  88% of those who responded reported that their employers pay for coffee and tea for internal meetings – those involving only colleagues, rather than a mix of colleagues and external guests.

What of more substantial offerings? 56% of you reported that your employers provide and pay for lunches at internal meetings. The percentage drops to 50% for dinner time meetings, and declines further for provision of snacks outside typical meal times.

Guidelines, SOPs and Policies: Whatever the practice, 64% of respondents’ organisations have articulated them by way of policies (27%), Standard Operating Procedures (14%) or guidelines (23%). Only 36% of respondents’ organisations have yet to put practices in writing.

 Consistency, Communication and Regular Review:  Almost half the respondents reported that people understand and respect the logic behind their respective practices – likely the result of effective communications, and consistency of application of whatever standards are in place.



Does your employer provide and pay for beverages such as coffee and tea for internal meetings?

  • Yes: 88% of respondents
  • No: 6% of respondents
  • 6% of respondents selected “Other”. One person commented, “depends which campus you’re on”.

Does your employer provide and pay for lunch for internal meetings held mid-day?

  • Yes: 56% of respondents
  • No: 38% of respondents
  • 6% of respondents selected “Other”. One person commented, “Depends on the purpose of the meeting – if it’s a training or team building”.

Does your employer provide and pay for dinner for attendees at internal meetings held over the dinner hour?

  • Yes: 50% of respondents
  • No: 44% of respondents
  • 6% of respondents selected “Other”. One person commented, “Only if it’s a team building or training meeting”.

Does your employer provide and pay for snacks for internal meetings held outside typical meal times?

  • Yes: 31% of respondents
  • No: 63% of respondents
  • 6% of respondents selected “Other”. One wrote, “Only if break time is part of an all day meeting, yet not for a 1-2 hour meeting …”.

Has your employer formalised its internal catering practices by way of guidelines, policy or SOP? 

  • Yes; we have a policy on this: 27% of respondents
  • Yes; we have an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) that addresses this: 14%
  • Yes; we have guidelines: 23%
  • No: 36% of respondents

If your employer has formalised its practices by way of guidelines, policy or SOP, how well on a scale of 1 to 5 have they been received?

  • 45%: 5/5 – people understand and respect the logic behind our practices
  • 9%: 4/5
  • 0% – 3/5
  • 0% – 2/5
  • 9% – 1/5
  • 36% selected “Other”. Some commented “n/a”, while one commented, “It has taken considerably more time to implement, though”.

If your employer has formalised its practices by way of guidelines, policy or SOP, please share any advice you may offer.

  • Be consistent, reiterate the guidelines regularly
  • Engage in an environmental scan as part of formalizing your practices, and communicate not only the direction, but also the rationale.
  • Pre-establish regular reviews to assess whether the practices (and rates) remain relevant
  • Not able to make any changes as decision made higher up
  • Practices may differ from private to public (and/or Not-For-Profit) sectors. In the latter two, perception of how public funds or donated funds are used may be as relevant as the actual costs.
  • Guidelines provide many options; stay between $8-12/pp for lunch, $10-15 supper

If your employer has formalised its practices by way of guidelines, policy or SOP that’s publicly available, please provide URL. 

  • No respondents had publicly available URLs/links to share.

If your employer has formalised its practices by way of guidelines, policy or SOP, what were primary considerations?

  • Efficiencies: 33% of respondents
  • Cost: 33% of respondents
  • Consistency across departments/divisions/branches, etc.: 17% of respondents
  • 17% of respondents selected “Other”. one wrote, “N/A”.

Please offer any comments you think may be helpful.

  • We always offer fruit/granola bars for breaks, if it’s an all day meeting


A thought for your day, with my good wishes …

Hôtel Le Germain Maple Leaf Square: Great Boutique Style In the Heart of Toronto


We’ve just spent a great weekend in Toronto, and are delighted that we tried a property new to us: Hôtel Le Germain Maple Leaf Square.

Readers will know I was highly impressed with my first stay with Hôtel Le Germain, in Québec City late this Spring. It was that experience that had us weighing two Hôtel Le Germain options in Toronto for this weekend visit.


It was a tough choice but, in the end, we went with the newer of the two properties for this visit. This 167-room luxury hotel is part of the Maple Leaf Square, which is home to the Air Canada Centre. While Sia performed there last night, the venue is also home to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Raptors, the city’s pro hockey and basketball teams. Now you’ll understand the prints over the headboards.

This city loves its hockey, and we were also a short stroll from Canada’s Hockey Hall of Fame.


Speaking of our national sport, I was delighted to spot our own Don Cherry just seconds after we stepping off our plane in Toronto. While known for his colourful attire on television, Mr. Cherry was likely the most elegantly dressed man in the airport.


Our room also offered us an unobstructed view of the landmark CN Tower, seen here from one of our walks, just behind the Roy Thomson Hall.


Hotel Concierge Tatiana was helpful with directions, and we also joined family to make our way to more than a few great locales, including High Park, above and below.


Fall colours were on great display, as you can see.


We were literally across the square from the entrance to the massive Union Station, home to trains and subway lines.


Between subway lines, street cars and good shoes, we saw many other great sights.

The hotel is also in walking distance of Bay Street and the business district, as well as fine examples of older architecture.

Annex Residence Toronto Copyright Shelagh Donnelly

Most will wait for another post, but here’s a preview at some particularly striking properties – in the Annex, on our way to the St. Lawrence Market, and at the University of Toronto.



Be prepared to be impressed with this property’s showers. As was the case when I stayed with this brand in Québec City, the oversized rain shower is exposed to the general living area – but you have the option of capturing privacy with wooden blinds on the shower’s outer walls.

I love Molton Brown toiletries, and we both appreciated the his-and-hers closets and ample storage.

Style and Great Little Touches

The brand also offers some of the healthier Continental breakfasts you might find on offer and, yes, those are three rows of apples adjacent to our elevator.  We appreciated stellar service from Karyl at breakfast both mornings, and Concierge Tatiana was very helpful with directions and suggestions.

I find Le Germain to be big on little touches.  Turndown service includes water and boxed chocolates, and there are urns in the hallways for those who would like to top up their carafes. We’re off to the Big Apple next, but are already looking forward to returning to this property on our next visit to Toronto.

Helen Parker is Coming to Real Careers this Week

This week we’re making our way to Portishead and Bristol, England.

That’s where Helen Parker is an Executive Assistant at The Society of Merchant Venturers.

 Check back Wednesday for my interview with Helen. Or, to receive a notification when this interview and other articles are published, just click on the “Subscribe” option at the right of your screen.

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