Earlier this month, the UK Government outlined plans for certain industry sectors in England to return to work post Covid-19 while employees who can operate from home continue to do so.
There has been much from foodservice businesses about what the new workplace will look like trying to anticipate clients requirements.
Given that we work with the clients that require workplace foodservice we thought we would ask them for their views.
We contacted clients, past and present, who we know are juggling with the prospect of foodservices at their head offices, and wider premises for insights.
During the past week we ran a survey with 50 Business & Industry clients that operate foodservices on site for their teams. The responses represented different industries including: Finance – Information Technology – Real Estate – Food & Drink – Media – Legal.
We wanted to gauge corporate expectations and examine how a ‘new normal’ may look.
We sought to understand what was in operation currently – If returns of teams were being phased, how that phasing would work and how foodservice was being planned around it.
Workplace Foodservice post Covid-19 – Survey Findings
- Many industries and clients are, and have been, operational throughout the Covid-19 crisis.
- Most offices were not open – 85%.
- Almost half said zero employees were being furloughed and were working from home – 46%
- Returns to work are being forecast at under different timelines, some as far ahead as 2021.
From the above, how employees are eating looks like this:
- Employees are continuing to cook for themselves
- Employees are ordering in food
- Employees venture out, with social media currently showing an abundance of people packed into busy open-air food markets and parks in London
For many, we think most workplace employers will want to control all food coming into their buildings, as well as how and where it is consumed.
For many, work conditions that ensure the wellbeing of all employees is of paramount importance. From the perspective of all individuals and the whole team.
Therefore the role of workplace foodservice has and will continue to grow.
Workplace Foodservice post Covid-19 – Survey Feedback
However, there are some obstacles that don’t make things easier. Out of our survey and one to one phone conversations came additional interesting feedback.
Firstly, from one of the largest businesses in the world, on PPE.
“We are so busy at the moment with our usual workload and the additional workload resulting from Covid-19. Covid-19 has brought us into contact with new PPE suppliers, a mixed bunch, being polite, who are just not experienced enough to deal with businesses like ours. We sorted the wheat from the chaff and now feel we are ahead of the game. We have ordered PPE for engineers and placed orders for protective screens at receptions and foodservice service points. These have been manufactured and are due on site.”
One of the world’s largest investment management businesses commented:
“We are preparing for phase 1 (re-entering of the building) earliest end of June. We have no intention of opening up foodservice areas or allowing external person to internal person meetings. In Phase 2 (30% of associates) we will gradually open up some foodservice but still no external person to internal person meetings. We hope that a small number of meetings can take place maybe nearer the end of the year, but we are not sure. When we return to services in providing hospitality for visitors, we anticipate single wrapped/ boxed breakfast/ lunches only.”
Finally, one of the world’s leading law firms, on the matter of furlough, fed back their caterer was not on top of things having furloughed all of their staff.
Given the above feedback from corporate respondents, TAF suggest that, as far as foodservice providers are concerned, significant reassurances are now required.
Our survey has clearly demonstrated that workplace foodservice will resume gradually to the ‘new normal’ through robust plans, solutions presented and caterer and client discussions around:
1 Communication channels – ZOOM already the ‘new normal’ for some
2 Furloughed staff – How the foodservice provider is returning to work
3 Health and safety measures – Including test-and-trace, social distancing, and PPE standards
4 Hospitality solutions – Details of all options (even conversions to staff feeding)
5 Meeting options – Space planning, pre-ordering and how it is served
From the survey and additional feedback, we’re more resolute than ever that UK foodservice operators are in a new era of having to adapt, evolve, innovate but also communicate and reassure workplace clients, eradicating all uncertainty and minimising risk.
Tracey Ann Fairclough, Managing Director, TAF Catering Consultancy