Lunch: let's box it up
In this ever-changing world, going out for lunch can be a risk.
Not only will getting in and out of the building take way longer than ever before, but fears around being outside of the controlled office environment will cause undue anxiety for some.
Lunch will become a really important way to bring employees together safely, however, the lunch program must be managed in an entirely different way than before.
There are three major considerations WOF Teams (Workplace, Office, Facilities Teams) must build into office lunch programs:
- Single serve versus family-style meals
- Social distancing, coordinated scheduling & delivery zones
- Supporting hyper-local eateries
Single serve versus family-style
Family-style meals represent a heap of heightened contamination risk, and as a result, we are shifting all of our clients' catering programs to single serve meals.
Not only will boxed lunches remind you of your middle school days, they’ll no doubt taste better than a flattened PB&J mysteriously smashed into the side of the rock hard orange your parent is trying to force you to eat.
Many caterers are updating their menus to feature more single serve or boxed options. Reach out to your favorite vendors, local restaurants and caterers about how they are adapting.
Social distancing, coordinated scheduling & delivery zones
With limitations around the use of elevators and planning efforts to reduce density inside the office, coordinated scheduling is more relevant now than ever. We’re talking two ships passing in the night at a safe 6 foot distance.
Staggering lunch windows is an effective way to reduce density, and coupled with delivery zones, coordinated scheduling can become an extremely impactful way to orchestrate. A safe and successful chow-down.
A delivery zone can be more specific than a floor! Let’s get granular, people!
How about creating popup delivery zones for smaller cohorts of employees so that your team will not be entering a largely crowded area to get their grub?
This is how we get some super cool technology involved! Enlist a catering partner that can facilitate mobile order placement tied to delivery zones inside your office and can also allow flexibility for your employees to pick different zones on different days.
When planning for a staggered delivery process, recognize that heating and reheating will become more of a thing. If you don’t already have enough microwaves in your space, the good news is they’re relatively inexpensive so it won’t be a bank-breaking expense to outfit your space with a few.
There are two major food temperature callouts to think through as you adapt your operations:
- Safe zone is over 135 degrees F and under 41 degrees F
- No food left out of temperature control for more than 2 hours
Depending on the size of your office, we recommend thinking about creating popup kitchenettes to restrict movement.
We’ll get into more detail on the use of Kitchenettes later on, but for now, let's talk about the difference between local and hyper-local.
As a result of COVID-19, restaurants in central business districts have faced the most sudden financial halt to their business than they likely have ever experienced.
As they open back up, foot-traffic will not be the same as it was, and catering & delivery will more than likely be their largest source of income. That means we’ll be able to enjoy our favorite local spots, safely.
That said, building mobility will be slow - elevators will be limiting the number of occupants per trip.
As a result, the number of deliveries that can be facilitated during lunch hour by a single restaurant delivery team will have its limits as well. Time will not be on our side, regardless of what the Rolling Stones have led us to believe.
So, how can we help? The answer is consolidation. If we can provide only two or three restaurant options for lunch to an entire company (or multiple companies in one building?!), then we really only need to plan for two or three deliveries into the building.
Going from floor-to-floor will still present longer than usual wait times, but the consolidation of options for a given company or building will reduce the number of trips needed on that elevator.
If this sounds like it’s up your alley, work with your food & beverage management service to coordinate directly with the local restaurants in your hyper-local area to make this happen. Ask your employees to avoid ordering one-off meals for lunch and coordinate consolidated meal orders to a vendor like Crafty who can coordinate the relationships with local restaurants.