How restaurants are coping with the hybrid workplace movement. What strategies are restaurants utilizing to tackle this new work environment? When is the new happy hour?
The pandemic has flipped the traditional work environment on its head. A large portion of employees have been working from home for the most part since 2020. Just as the virus seemed to be slowing down, the delta variant took over and brought many businesses to a halt once again.
However, with the availability of vaccines, workplaces are opening up under strict conditions. But, there is a new work model taking over - the hybrid workplace - and it is here to stay.
Restaurants are on the frontline of dealing with this new trend of the hybrid workplace. Since less employees are working from the office on a regular basis, food businesses that cater to the office lunch crowd or earn their main profits via co-workers attending happy hour, are shutting down due to low sales. They need new strategies and management tools to better react and accommodate the hybrid workplace model.
Here is a look at the strategies restaurants are putting in place to cope with these changes and what to expect moving forward.
When the pandemic first began to settle down a bit with a vaccine on the horizon, workplaces started opening up gradually. People believed that the hybrid workplace model would be temporary, and soon, work environments would go back to normal.
But now, two years into the pandemic, the hybrid model seems to be the future. Many corporations are adopting this model indefinitely. And employees are actually pretty happy with this new model.
So, what exactly is this hybrid workplace model?
A hybrid model is one that allows employees to work from home on some days of the week and to work from home on other days. Some key members might have to attend in-person meetings, while others can work from home most days.
The hybrid workplace model has put employees at home and a big chunk of customers for food places, out of reach. Most restaurants that operate near corporate offices and businesses thrive on lunch breaks for employees or after work hours.
Colleagues usually gather at these restaurants during happy hour to kick back and relax after a hard day’s work. And they would spend a substantial amount of money. As offices are allowing employees to work from home, at least part-time, these gatherings have reduced significantly.
If restaurants do not adapt, they won’t be able to recover the lost sales associated with the changing workplace.
Restaurants need to shake things up to survive the hybrid workplace model. So, how exactly are restaurants dealing with this new normal?
To meet fluctuating demands in corporate offices, restaurants are becoming hybrid too - building multi-service models. Rather than just focusing on one type of offering, they are looking at expanding options.
For example, most restaurants now offer walk-in, takeout, and delivery options. If office workers want to dine out, they can come to the physical location, while the work-from-home employee can order delivery from the same establishment.
There are no more buffets at the office, that is for sure. But restaurants that were catering to nearby businesses are going digital completely to reduce expenses while being able to serve a larger crowd.
Instead of flyers and physical menus, restaurants are sending digital menus to office workers. Whether going out to lunch or ordering delivery, workers have more options than ever when it comes to ordering and eating their favorite dish from their favorite restaurant. Paper menus are being eliminated from most restaurants, and digital solutions are being embraced.
Some restaurants are partnering with local businesses to offer discounts to remote employees who order from them. There are some restaurants that are collaborating with offices to offer meals at a discounted price for both onsite and remote employees.
Happy hour used to be the time when co-workers would get together to relax at a restaurant or bar after work. During this time, the drinks are often sold at a lower price than usual, but bars and restaurants have not been offering these discounts as frequently since the onset of the pandemic.
Although it increases sales, happy hours usually gather a crowd that falls outside the regulations for the pandemic. Also, with less workers on-hand since the start of the pandemic, having more employees for just a couple of short hours would raise expenses for restaurants. The consensus among industry insiders is that happy hour is not expected to make a full comeback until the situation normalizes.
As the situation keeps changing, it remains to be seen how rapidly restaurants will need to evolve to survive ever-changing regulations and consumer behavior. For now, the hybrid workplace model is gaining traction and is most likely here to stay.
From concept developer and restaurant general manager, to corporate chef and marketing director, Murphy has been the lead executive in a number of the country’s most prominent restaurants and bars.Connect with Geordy on firstname.lastname@example.org
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