I have been truly excited to see our catering operations, on client sites, re-opening throughout June and July. Though this emotional rollercoaster (initially reminiscent of a returning schoolchild, mixing both nervousness and excitement), was cut short by the “false-start” re-opening we experienced in July.
Now government guidelines and restrictions finally switched responsibility to either the “individual” or “employer”, we are seeing positive and sensible steps forward to re-opening offices.
Over the last month, when talking to our colleagues in Facilities Management or Estates and Real-estate teams, it is clear they have been busy working with leaders of businesses to prepare for the grand re-opening.
Typically, offices spaces have been redeveloped, over and above any modernisations and improvements. This often includes more social spaces; break-out areas (with more eating and drinking areas), lounges, terraces, and green spaces. This isn’t to just look cool or attract the younger talent, this is also to retain existing teams, who in a “Hybrid” working world, expect their offices to be as good or better than their home space.
3 things team members want from a post covid workspace?
On a basic level we are seeing most of our clients make changes to the working environment. To get teams back to work many team surveys have been completed and all the major management consultancies and workplace giants have all published on this extensively. From my perspective this boils down to three things:
- A working environment that is great to work in
- Tech connectivity and solutions that are easy and superior to home
- Finally, and probably most importantly Social Interaction
If an employer can’t deliver on the above, then expect the “hybrid” working flexibility part to include more days at home, in the coffee shop or staff joining other firms that have it.
Back in the office from September
Much of the UK has tried to take some unused holiday during August, making it very quiet on the sites I’ve visited in the last weeks. However, 95% of our surveyed clients are expecting a mass return to work in September. Organisations have mostly given clarity on the new ways of working and once schools have returned, by the third week in September, we are being told to expect between 50%-70% of workers to be back in the office.
From our client hybrid working trials, we have been part of, it’s clear those in the office want to maximise face-to-face time with colleagues. This results in many more coffee shop meetings, team lunches and even group cakes in the afternoon. Lone desk working on emails has stopped, with collaborative and creative work taking precedence. This means client employees who are in the office, tend to stay in the office all day increasing effectiveness and using our facilities.
We have a dozen clients who have chosen to provide coffee bars, restaurant, or pop-up food stalls for free to their teams as a way of attracting employees back to the office. It really appears to be working, with customers telling me they choose working days based on our menu – no pressure Chef! Customers also tell me how easy it is and how welcome they feel coming back for the first time.
With the promises of refurbished workspaces, flexibility of working days, in some cases, free food and drink, organisational focus on wellbeing, and of course the ending of furlough in the UK, we believe UK offices will see the grand re-opening start from September.
We cannot wait and the excitement is palpable across our teams, so we can get back to serving great food and coffee to our wonderful customers!
Take a look at our Expert Guide to find out how to safely re-open your office catering