So many of the issues being faced today are not rocket science; people simply became tired with perceived corporate arrogance, the lack of values, the lack of purpose, transactions, poor service, automated service plus long working days with high costs which stressed them. We then wonder why people don’t want to go back to the work environment; maybe there are simple answers to be considered?
This is not to say that all was good in the past; it clearly wasn’t but the base principles were there for good reason. If cities are going to start ticking over again, then people will need to want to return to the workplace. Work lost its magic. It became a strain and pressure rather than an experience. It needs to reinvent itself and play a positive role.
Maybe the old simple rationale behind the 9 to 5 job with the one-hour lunch break had a sounder logic behind it than many gave to it. There is more and more evidence and science emerging that shows that:
· The old traditional lunch break and time with colleagues played a genuinely important role in business; it encouraged informal discussions and relationship building. On the same level, foodservice has an important role to play to re-engaging teams and in improving productivity. There is clear evidence that the decline in face to face interactions is almost directly in line with the fall in productivity. One may dismiss the old lunch breaks with clients and colleagues but was productivity higher as a result?
· The decline and erosion in trust have been well documented and it is no coincidence that many leadership teams are struggling now to engage internally and with clients externally. Relationships are once again to the fore.
· It is equally well documented that millennials questions the values and business ethics of businesses and want to see a higher standard. Companies used to live and breathe off strong value bases and cultures but these have been eroded with the increased importance of technology and automated systems. Emerging generations want to see companies once again act with real values at their core.
· The famous line “Lunch is for whimps” was from the film “Wall Street” in the late 1980s and there is a view that business became increasingly Alpha as the years have passed. The challenge being presented is that business needs to think bigger and better; to be more inclusive, be more compassionate, and have stronger values. This includes investing back in people and services that support their productivity
· We are all aware that mental health levels were alarmingly high and anxiety even higher.
It just may be that the core problems that are arguably stifling business today can be begun to be sorted with a return to what worked in the past:
· Working days do need to better balanced.
· People do want to see companies live with greater purpose and greater social awareness.
· Relationships and trust are once again core
· Food does play a central role in daily life to a level not seen before in the UK and plays an important role within companies to support problem-solving, comms and productivity. It is not a hard argument to say that food plays a key role in daily life, one which daily life better and stronger and is worth investing in. In fact, the old argument that food service is about cost is surely proven to be a falsehood as the loss in productivity has cost far more money than the cost of providing a good service.
· Face to face contact and social interaction is fundamental to strong culture and community.
· Service has a major role to play. It creates experiences that people want to engage in.
· Can space be reimagined and redesigned to be more engaging?
The problems can be solved but it needs to require maybe a reset from problems that were clearly evident leading up to the pandemic.
Maybe one of the challenges is that HR has grown to become less focused on supporting employee journey and is more dominated by other issues which, in turn, has created a gap with the structural thinking of boards?
The opportunity is to have the expertise that really can bring in a new focus on the work/employee experience, on how to use foodservice effectively to support productivity and how to once again place value add culture at the heart of the business.