Changing Landscape of Catering

January 19, 2024

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The changing landscape requires us to...well, change

The landscape for corporate catering has seen a seismic upheaval in 2020. Just as many landscapes never look the same again when major disruptive forces have had their impact, those managing offices, and those who populate them, are considering the way forward carefully.

When it comes to predicting what the new working practices will look like there is no shortage of commentary on the multiplicity of areas affected - commuting, office environments - (everything from amount of desks, sofas, break out rooms, quality of beverages) office location, coworking spaces, quality of WFH experiences, team performance (lack of) etc. A recent Spectator article referred to this future of the office as ‘a theatre of work, where you’ll be on the receiving end of a massive hit of social interaction and corporate effort to make the best of you’.

Catering business, already reeling from a desperate 12 months, will need to recognise that they are also part of these tectonic shifts in the office place.

Is there a solution to catering for a less predictable and more flexible workforce? And, alongside the change in environment and purpose of the office space, what about the habits formed in the last year by those ordering food as individuals? Are we really going back to the same corporate catering experience as before? Expectations may well have changed in that regard too.

To wait and see may not be an option - the truth is that where there is flexibility to adapt there will be a pay off.

A returning workforce..will they or won’t they?

Back in March 2020 a rather presumptuous death knell was sounded over offices - it wasn't long before social connection was missed*. Big surprise...humans like being together! And in terms of just doing things ‘better’ it was also recognised that training new staff, having creative meetings and problem solving are far more productive in person. Again, was anyone really surprised by this?

Some companies have already been offering incentives to employees to return to the workplace and, let’s be frank, be at more risk from Covid than they would have been at home. This ‘hazard pay’ will be noted by many of the Gen Z workforce - these workers aren’t slow to leave companies which they feel are free and easy when it comes to the wellbeing of their staff. Making these payments is very much an investment when compared to the painful costs of losing staff and subsequent hiring and training.

But returning to the office and finding that the scaled down staff numbers is matched by a scaled down quality of life at work can undo all that effort made to retain staff and lift morale.

From the employers pov there is a need to entice workers back...and not just with hazard pay…mid to long term a new purpose for meeting will be commonplace. Workers won’t just make the commute to do what they could just have easily done at home. There may well be a different layout in offices with fewer desks and more break out areas. Workplace interiors designed for time to communicate, share and be face to face will be built into office life more than ever.

The internal kitchens be or not to be?

So those managing large offices or coworking spaces are caught between a rock and a hard place. The reality is that with a smaller in-office headcount, there will probably be fewer workplace restaurants. However, when staff are there who will cater to their needs...and as suggested above these needs are going to be catering predominantly to their social gatherings.

Spoonfed have developed the tools for caterers to engage with the workforce in this new landscape in a way which is flexible, cost effective and able to be managed for one office or over a number of sites. A white labelled online portal using commissary kitchens will be the go-to solution for many managers and catering teams as they seek to bring efficiency to bear in every aspect of their operation and begin to increase revenue from corporate drop off catering once more.

Speak to Spoonfed today and discover what they can do for your tomorrow.

A survey of more than 2,000 office workers in 10 countries published in November found that while about 1in 3 wanted to continue working from home after the pandemic, about the same amount also wished to maintain some access to an office)

REUTERS: article : fewer desks, more coffee - how the office could change after covid19

Image by enriquelopezgarre from Pixabay*