As the pandemic began to take hold in mid-March, many companies and office buildings closed their doors and sent their employees home, thereby also closing the company cafeteria. Some locations are likely serving essential personnel and so have stayed open but pivoted to only offering takeout and delivery. If employees who do return to the office are faced with eating lunch at their desk or in a socially distanced and masked cafeteria, they may be more likely to choose to simply eat at their desks. In general, Business and industry operators reopening say sales have taken a huge hit, with nearly half saying sales have gone to zero. This is a much bleaker situation than is being felt across the industry.
Business and industry operators are very likely to pivot heavily to delivery. Before COVID-19, one of business and industry operators’ top goals was to build a company culture and to create an open and connected space for workers. Now that we live in a world with limited human interaction, employees may be looking toward their business and industry foodservice outlets to avoid additional connections or touch points that might happen if they venture off-site to a restaurant to grab lunch. The food takes a much more central role compared to the experience.
Business and industry operators were often faced with a “lunch rush” when the employees of a company would all take a break and expect food around the same time each day. The segment relied heavily on salad bars to offer customization with a lot of speed. Even more operators relied on self-service coffee and tea dispensers to quickly get employees their morning caffeine fix. Previously the segment was able to leverage a relatively closed universe of patrons (employees) compared to restaurants and so relied heavily on self-serve. Unfortunately, COVID safety concerns mean these offerings are going to go away for the near term and probably longer. Operators may be looking for new and creative ways to offer a lot of people food quickly in a short time window while offering at least some customization.
Business and industry operators reopening are likely to get in on what we’ve been seeing in other segments of the industry: using their dining rooms as grocery stores or pop-up corner stores. Operators may look to toilet paper and grocery staples to improve the employee experience and as a creative way to boost employee morale. Given that employees aren’t likely to be making full use of on-site cafeterias any time soon, operators and their companies will be looking for creative uses for that square footage.
In this report, you’ll find data and insights, as well as recommendations around how you can make employees returning to work feel more at ease. Key takeaways from this report are as follows:
- 50% of consumers plan to discontinue the use of self-serve coffee and tea dispensers
- 73% of consumers plan to discontinue the use of self-serve salad bars
- 77% of consumers plan to discontinue the use of self-serve hot bars
- 65% of consumers plan to discontinue the use of condiment stations
- 56% of business and industry operators plan to offer fewer items on their menu
- 42% of business and industry operators plan to offer the same number of items on their menu
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