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What Place Does Remote Work Have at Your Restaurant?

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Think back to how life was three years ago. How much has changed? The COVID-19 pandemic altered businesses across industries. From hospitals to restaurants, day-to-day operations have shifted. 

One of the most significant changes has been in how people work. Remote employment has risen in popularity, and you can see the ramifications in many sectors. How has it affected the restaurant industry? What place does it have with your operation?

How Did the Pandemic Affect Workplaces?

Remote work existed before the pandemic began but took off in March 2020. The number of COVID-19 cases increased, so companies sent their employees to work from home. Many of these people started remote work for the first time. Some industries, such as manufacturing, had to continue in-person work, so they developed health and safety policies to protect workers from spreading the virus. 

A survey from October 2020 showed that 71% of workers who could do their job remotely were working from home most or all of the time. Before the pandemic, only about 20% of those people said they did this. Telework has significantly affected how companies hire new employees and conduct business. It has also changed where and how workers live.

How Did the Pandemic Affect Restaurants?

In March 2020, cities and states nationwide announced pandemic protocols. Many municipalities implemented shelter-in-place orders, only allowing residents to leave the house for essential goods and services. Most restaurants could remain operational, but regulations instructed they couldn’t open their dining area to customers. Only pick-up and delivery options were available to reduce contact between customers and employees.

Cities and states gradually lifted restrictions. Some companies called their workers back to the office, but others let their employees stay home. Metro areas have started returning to normal, but people aren’t as out and about as they used to be. American commuters spent 36 hours in congested traffic in 2021, more than in 2020 but far less than in 2019. Fewer people on the road have meant smaller crowds at restaurants.

Restaurants rely on workers stopping by on their commute to pick up breakfast, lunch or dinner. They also benefit from companies that organize business lunches and bring many people to the table. However, those opportunities aren’t as prevalent as they used to be because remote work has become widespread.   

What Is the Future of Remote Work?

Remote work was a temporary solution for some companies during the pandemic. However, when cities relaxed regulations, many employees stayed home. Working from home has incorporated itself into life for Americans and other places worldwide, and employees don’t seem to mind. About 48% of workers say they are happier about their jobs since starting to work remotely.

Workers enjoy telework, and companies are shifting their policies to include more remote work. In fact, a report from Ladders shows that 25% of professional jobs will be remote in 2023. Employees enjoy flexibility, and companies can save money by downsizing offices. Remote work allows businesses to expand their talent pool to nationwide searches.  

How Can Restaurants Adapt to the New Normal?

Remote work is here to stay for the long haul. What does it mean for restaurants? How can the industry adapt to the new normal and keep pace with the trends? Here’s what restaurants can do to succeed.

  1. Focus on Catering

Remote work has become prevalent, but many companies still have workers present. In fact, some use food as an incentive to return to the office. In a 2022 survey, nearly 40% of commuters said their company used a catering service at least once a week.

Catering has become an essential feature for many restaurants in the new normal. It’s a solid opportunity for profit and to showcase your facility’s food to people who haven’t been there yet. It’s also an excellent time to build relationships with local businesses and expand their horizons. 

  1. Embrace Delivery Services

The pandemic caused many restaurants to shut down their dining areas, leaving takeout or drive-thru as the only options. Customers turned to food delivery services like DoorDash, Grubhub and other apps to get their food. Remote workers are some of the most frequent customers of delivery services.

People working from home have a kitchen in front of them to make meals. However, only a fraction have the time to make a Michelin Star-level entree, and people who live alone might not want to make an entire meal for themselves

A 2021 survey shows that 42% of remote workers frequently use delivery to get lunch. Food delivery services continue to rise in popularity because people like convenience. Restaurants can take advantage by partnering with these apps and offering special deals for customers.

  1. Appeal to Remote Workers 

Remote workers often stay at home when working out of convenience. It’s where their internet, kitchen and bathroom are, so it makes sense. However, some teleworkers prefer to get out of the house. If possible, they take their laptop and go to a coffee shop or a quiet place where they can work. Make your restaurant an attractive place for remote workers in the area by providing free and strong Wi-Fi. 

Adjusting to a New Era of Service

Trends come and go in every decade. You won’t see as many overalls and brick-sized cell phones as you did in the 1990s. The pandemic changed people’s lives, especially in the restaurant industry. Your business had to adjust to a new era of service. Remote work continues to rise, but these strategies can help your operation remain successful. 

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