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Whatever the approach, the guest experience remains the priority.

Viewpoint: Where can corporate dining fit in as offices reopen to hybrid models?

After years of working in New York and New Jersey’s B&I foodservice and catering space as part of the Restaurant Associates team, Adam Weiss has some great perspective on this timely—and urgent—issue.

After several months of corporate employees working from home, the process has now begun of employees returning the workplace in some capacity. Companies want to regain some of the normalcy of offering daily foodservice to their employees. But what will that look like?

Here are 5 key areas to set your focus when jump-starting, re-starting and tailoring your corporate foodservice program to today’s new workplace realities.

Getting on the same page with your company leadership: Within your food service organization, you need to be clear on the expectations of your parent company. Have you created a realistic financial budget? Are there strategies within other units that you can employ within your entity? Will have you have corporate support with retraining your team?

Training, responsibilities, purchasing and payroll: Hopefully you have retained some of your key associates, but you will most likely have new employees who will need to be ramped up rapidly to manage the business. How do you manage payroll and food purchasing strategies with so many variables on daily attendance? Make sure you proactively address these areas with your supervisors. One on their chief responsibilities is to support you and your team and guide you through this transition period. 

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Ask your client: As this is new ground for you and your team, the same applies to your client. I am sure there are several unknowns on their end concerning the number of employees that will be working in the offices daily. This has a direct impact to how you operate. This is a perfect opportunity to strengthen your client relationship by strategizing together on an effective food service program. You are in this together and having that strong alignment is crucial.

Specifics to ask your client: How would they like to see the food service program modeled?  What are THEIR employees’ expectations? How about creating a brief survey for employees to determine what food service needs are important for them? Do they want grab-and-go only? Are there multiple locations to easily access their meals? Would they enjoy self-service kiosks? How important is offering hot meals?

Remember the remote workers: Another area to address is how to handle food service for the remote employees. What are the company guidelines to manage this area? Can your food service operation be involved in a solution? What about sending weekly DIY food kits with recipes and live demonstrations with chefs, gardeners, farmers, you name it? I work with companies myself through my Pike Lane Gardens brand of sending kits on Growing Salad Greens with all the components with an accompanying live demonstration from my garden. Think outside of the box and have fun with alternatives. Be there for your client!

Regardless of the strategy, this is new territory for the B&I food Industry. Flexibility and fluidity will be the buzz words during this next chapter. Whatever the approach, the guest experience remains the priority: That they feel important and cared for.

AdamWeissBIO_PHOTO.pngAdam Weiss, veteran B&I leader, is currently available for consulting and custom-creating interactive virtual garden-to-kitchen experiences for corporate groups through Pike Lane Gardens. 

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