Food at client sites

  • The canteen where I work is closing and so we're all going to have to fend for ourselves. I have a consultant come and work with me once a week and he loves his food. He's quite unusual, as I find that pretty much all the IT consultants and engineers that come and work here don't eat during the day - presumably because they'd rather work through and leave early. They sustain themselves on a diet of Mars Bars and Coca-Cola.

    Because I've been used to having a canteen providing free meals for visitors for years, I'm not sure what the etiquette is. Do we send consultants out to get their own food (we're not short of vans selling burgers and sandwiches round here)? Do we go and get something for them? Do we tell them to bring their own lunch with them?

    This isn't a particularly serious question, I'm mainly interested in what you lot do when you work at clients. I always love a food thread. When I lived in Hong Kong we'd generally go to a restaurant because lunch is a massive thing for Chinese people. In the UK, people generally have very short lunch breaks, or eat at their desks whilst continuing to work. When I was consulting in the UK years ago, I can't actually remember what I did.

  • If a budget is of concern, the most budget friendly is to bring a brown bag lunch. It is more professional to leave the premises and eat that elsewhere. A park, or other public place. Though many SMB clients don't care, it looks tacky. Having said that, when consultants travel to a large scale environment, a break room is usually available, and is readily offered within the confines while not appearing tacky. Many road warriors will take clients to lunch on company dollar, if that is not the case, the previous recommendations apply.

  • Obviously I have no legal obligation to provide food, but whilst I know that some companies treat consultants and engineers like domestic servants to be used and abused, I like to keep them sweet. If keeping them well-fed and happy increases their productivity then I'm all for it.

  • When we send someone onsite there is a food stipend for the day.
    Half day= $25
    Full day=$50
    They have to go out and find things themselves or bring something in themselves. Transport to etc. isn't part of the concern.

  • Interesting question. Here's how I handled it when I was a consultant.

    If I was staying in town, I never charged for my meals, I considered them to be no different than a normal employed position.

    If I was traveling, I'd either stipend it like Minion Queen, or pass the receipts directly to the client for reimbursement.

  • I really think that this is one that varies all over the place, partially based on the culture at the client site and partially on the consultant. I tend to only eat if eating with the people I am working with (working lunch, more or less) as I can eat on my way to the site or on the way away. I'm not a big lunch eater so would naturally skip it at home if that was where I was in most cases so eating at a client site doesn't make a lot of sense for me.

  • As a consultant, when I am at a client site, I generally work through without eating unless it is a site I visit on a regualr basis. Then it just depends. If I am travelling, I will go out and get something. If I am local, I generally will bring something and eat it in the break/lunch room.