There have been some interesting new dynamics which have begun to emerge in the last few weeks:
· Many hearts within C-Suite fell last week as the PM announced his Plan B as they knew that their desire to get employees back to offices became that much more difficult. They, therefore, know that they need to entice employees back with better services.
· This seems to be leading to discussions related to greater investment back into services and a move back towards cost plus/traditional contracts.
· For those who returned to work, many have been staying onsite rather than venture out and this has led to the average spends increasing. Many have long argued that numbers onsite may fall but spends could increase to cover the fall and this may be proving to be the case.
It is still early days but the above could signal more important small changes:
· C-Suite taking greater interest in food service and support services
· Greater investment back into services
· The view that numbers in offices will fall but spend will increase
All this is building a confidence within operators. Many were concerned that services would have changed forever and this may still be the case but the discussion has moved on to how can services be improved and what services are really wanted by employees? The employee journey has become increasingly important in this battleground.
There are many who believe that the consumer wants brands onsite but there is also research emerging which suggests that actually, the desire is not for brands but for great food, simply produced, along with great service. There are those who believe that many want to access brands and this will see the emergence of delivered in models within foodservice and there are others who believe that the real goal is to create great in-house restaurants which act as a basis for social interaction.
The fact that this debate is emerging is positive as at its heart lies the discussion as to whether food service is an employee benefit or is it now the engine room for social interaction and conversation between colleagues at work; for rebuilding culture and teams. Both are important discussions and objectives in enticing employees back to the office.
For C-Suite, there is a shift in that they used to want to keep employees at their desks for as long as was possible. Now, they want to encourage social interaction and want restaurants which will engage and increase dwell times as increased dwell times = greater interaction = greater enjoyment in the workplace.
Is food service still an HR benefit? Of course but it will play a more central role and for food service, there is a very strong argument to make for investment and for improved services.