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Offices versus distribution: Exploring caterers’ changing, cross-sector needs

Chef cooking in the kitchen

We’ve talked about hybrid working, and how the UK’s office-based workforce was required to become home-bound almost overnight. In turn, leaving many on-site caterers forced with having to temporarily shut their kitchen doors until further notice.

But what about the sectors that have been unable to work from home? How have caterers of distribution and e-commerce businesses, for example, coped under the pressures brought about with exponential growth? (McKinsey reports that the e-commerce industry has grown two to five times faster than before the pandemic.)

On the flipside, the aforementioned on-site caterers in office complexes that have had to wind down over the last 12 months, are now starting to gradually open back up, albeit it, in a covid-safe manner.

Downsizing v scaling up

According to an article in the Financial Times, most office-based firms have delayed any major return to the workplace until spring/summer, in the hope the vaccine has restored some slight normality. But even then, downsizing is a consideration due to the hybrid model being implemented by many, including Google, which plans to bring its teams back for just three days per week from September.

Warehouses, on the other hand, are seeing very much the opposite trend. Amazon was said to have increased its physical footprint by a staggering 50% last year, thanks to a huge upturn in sales during the pandemic.

For caterers organising the food and drink offerings for these sectors, each poses its own set of unique issues. For the offices gradually bringing their workforces back, though on different days and times, ingredient sourcing and meal prep will have to be adapted daily to suit ever-changing timescales and footfall.

And the same goes for the sudden influx of warehouse workers, undertaking varying shifts over a 24-hour period. This could lead to food waste, or shortage, depending on the volume of hungry workers on site at any one time.

A flexible solution

From our own client-base, we’ve noticed an increase in warehouse and factory night shift workers booking our Pre Order Pods to ensure a nutritious meal is on hand when they need it. And rather than the kitchens having to remain open 24/7, the temperature of the Pods can be set individually to keep fresh food hot or cold until it’s ready to be consumed.

Office caterers are also seeing the benefits of using Pre Order Pods to manage their output. On busier days, they are able to offer a virtually contactless solution for optimum safety. And during quieter periods when building occupancy is low, they can still cater for employees without the expense of operating a full service. This flexible approach not only caters for the new hybrid working week, but it also reduces wastage as meals are made to order and stored at the correct temperature to keep them fresh.

We understand the complexities of catering for large or small teams, especially during the current ever-evolving circumstances we find ourselves in. Get in touch with our team to find out how we can support your catering management, throughout the pandemic and beyond.

Photo by Timur Saglambilek from Pexels