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Businesses urged to prepare for changes to workplace catering

Workplace ‘takeaways’, shift-based lunches and more pre-ordering are all likely to be the new ‘normal’ when the Covid-19 lockdown period has passed – according to a high-level group of catering and facilities management consultants and experts.

Speaking during ‘Connect and Collaborate’ workshops developed by Bartlett Mitchell, the experts discussed how, with more people expected to work from home, introduction of ‘shift’ patterns, and a gradual removal of lockdown measures, the workplace is likely to change significantly in the foreseeable future.

The workshops feature leading voices from across the catering and FM sector, including consultants, FM directors and workplace experts. Meeting regularly in virtual hubs, the groups discuss the key challenges facing the sector and how the physical, cultural and behavioural shape of catering and FM will be adapting during the next 12 months.

Attendees include leading consultants from Neller Davies, Stern Consultancy, Catering Consultancy Bureau, IJEss Consultancy, Tricon and Turpin Smale, and FM and procurement directors from leading law, tech and finance firms.
 
Some key findings from the sessions include:

Reshaping menus 

  • food offers for a post Covid-19 world will need to change dramatically, with menus needing to be more ‘delivery’ friendly, or be able to be hosted in newly designed workplace restaurants
  • any sharing, or self-service style food to be removed

Health and safety

  • specific training and development will be required by teams when preparing for a return to work in a new socially-distanced environment  
  • customers and guests will need to be offered guidance and information about new ways of working and measures taken to minimise risk. Restaurant hosts and guides are likely to be deployed to guide people through zones and control the movement of people

Shift based footfall 

  • some city businesses are likely to implement shift patterns for those who come to the office. ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams are likely to be deployed on a weekly basis
  • there are likely to be lunch shifts in some organisations to reduce traffic and queuing wherever possible

Intelligent technology

  • there will be more on an emphasis placed on using technology to pre-order food, as well as communicate key messages to customers and guests to help reassure them during the initial post-lockdown period. ‘Click and collect’ is expected to feature heavily during the initial months

The company is using the findings to feed into conversations with UK Hospitality where Wendy Bartlett, founder of BM, is a board member. The foodservice forum of UK Hospitality is using insights on workplace catering to inform government policy on release from lockdown.

Wendy Bartlett, said: “The world that we have all known and loved for so long is certainly likely to change dramatically in the foreseeable future and we are all need to be prepared.

“Whatever happens in the coming months and years, we will all have learnt some valuable and probably tough lessons.

“It is, however, very inspiring to work together with our ‘frenemies’ from the contract catering world to put forward one voice to government with UK Hospitality. 

“By working as a cohesive group, we have supported each other during this time. We will look back and say yes it was tough, but working together we had a common message and strategy and hopefully it will help us through.”

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