As Boris Johnson announced last week that he will outline plans for relaxing the lockdown in the week ahead, we consider what that means for the hospitality industry across the UK.
The first part of the equation is of course trying to second guess the government’s strategy.
The government’s communication theme throughout the Covid-19 pandemic has been to trust in, and act upon scientific guidance. This will limit what can be done if following scientific guidance is to be maintained by Government, and we think it will be.
So, one of the first hospitality sectors to see some semblance of return will think will be workplace catering. As with all sectors it will be different, but the Government will want to see a return to work for economic and political reasons sooner rather than later.
Unlocking hospitality’s reopening conundrum
Companies that outsource workplace catering will need to have covered their own wider preparations, and top of that list will be health and safety.
So, we would anticipate adequate social distancing to meet Government guidelines being in place. We would also anticipate that extraordinarily thorough cleaning will have taken place, probably by specialists.
Warewashing will have to be reviewed and be carried out meticulously. Kitchen Porters will be even more important in these processes and procedures. Here we think suppliers of warewashing equipment that have consultative sales processes will benefit.
We asked Paul Anderson, Managing Director at Meiko UK for his view, as always it was considered and concise. “At MEIKO our service support is key, and we will remain at hand, as we have been throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We ensure that we support all of our valued partners and clients.
“We will adapt and support the market as we enter the return, and like others measure and react to what is asked of us. Added value will be key and will be a focus of our support to all.”
Overall fewer people will be in workplaces, as working from home will have proved more effective than some may have thought, for managers and team members. So reduced numbers to cater for can be realistically forecast.
Shifts are one consideration that for many will reduce the total number of people in any working environment at any given time. This would make maintaining social distancing easier, but would enlarge service times.
One element that will not be in operation is buffet style self-service. This for many will necessitate major change.
The flow of people through a staff restaurant will need to be remapped and totally reconsidered.
From entry, to queuing, through to service and of course dining everything will change. Small changes like the inability to share condiments and many other elements of dining will need to be addressed.
The wider use of technology will doubtless be applied, delivery to desk being one option.
Unlocking hospitality’s reopening conundrum
We spoke with Simon Houston, Director at workplace Caterer, Houston and Hawkes who reflected saying:
“No one really knows what the ‘new normal’ will look like, although it’s promising the discussion is underway.
“Policy, safety measures and consumer confidence will drive the majority of our decision making over the coming months.
“We are a resilient sector and undoubtedly, the future landscape of foodservice looks vastly different indeed.
“The sector will adapt, and we will continue to innovate to meet the ‘new norm’.”
Last week we featured – Future workplace catering forecast – where Bartlett Mitchell and leading foodservice consultants are already busy focusing on unlocking Hospitality’s reopening conundrum for workplace catering.
The consultants collaborating with Bartlett Mitchell include: Tricon Foodservice Consultants – Neller Davies – Stern Consultancy – Catering Consultancy Bureau – IJEss Consultancy – Turpin Smale. Also FM and procurement directors from leading law, tech and finance firms.
Like every sector, change will be the new constant and as lockdown is relaxed so the changes will emerge. Adapting to them will be the key to success.
We will be looking deeper at workplace catering adapting and developing to new workplace requirements, as well as every other sector, in the days and weeks ahead.
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