Clarion Group: More Employees Leaving the Office to Work at Home is Starting to Reverse, Which is Good News for Operators of Corporate Food Services

April 1, 2013 - Kingston, NH - “Maybe the outgoing tide of more employees leaving the office to work at home is starting to reverse,” says Tom Mac Dermott, president of Clarion Group, a food service consulting firm.  “That would be good news for the operators of corporate food services.”

For more than a decade, the percentage of companies’ employees who work from home has been steadily increasing, reducing the number of customers for the on-site food service.  Some 63% of employers in a study conducted by the Family and Work Institute now permit employees to work from home at least part of the time, up from 34% in a similar study in 2005.

Recently, Yahoo, the internet search engine and website, announced it will require all employees to work at the office, starting in June.  Several other firms have followed suit.

“Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway conversations and cafeteria discussions,” said Jackie Rese, Yahoo’s Human Resources Director in announcing the new policy.  “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”

While the wisdom of the decision is hotly disputed, not everyone, including some Yahoo employees, are upset.  “Deadwood is hiding at home,” one Yahoo employee told The Wall Street Journal.

The food service operator can help its host company implement the improvements in productivity that Yahoo is seeking, according to Mac Dermott.  “The on-site food service center can be a place where creativity takes place.”

“The staff café is a natural gathering place, generally in a central location,” he said  If it’s configured to permit groups to work and discuss ideas, as well as have lunch or a mid-morning or afternoon snack and coffee, it can be a valuable asset to the company as well as to the food service operator.”

“By providing tables and groups of tables of various sizes to accommodate different numbers of people, especially round tables where six or eight people can gather for easy discussion, the food service operator is providing a comfortable site for productive meetings and informal discussions,” he added.

Other ways of encouraging staff café use the food service operator can implement include partitioning off small areas with seating for from eight to 12, which informal groups can use in place of reserved conference rooms, which often are in short supply, he added.

“Making sure the café is Wi-Fi-enabled and providing flip charts and other communication aides also helps encourage employees to use the café,” Mac Dermott suggests.

“Work-from-home is probably here to stay in some version,” he added, “but the food service operator can help make working at the worksite an attractive option.”

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About Clarion Group
Clarion Group is an consulting firm that advises companies, professional firms, colleges and universities, independent schools and institutions in the management, operation and improvement of  their in-house employee/student food services, catering, conference, lodging and related hospitality services throughout the U.S. and Canada.

For information, contact:
Tom Mac Dermott, FCSI, President
Clarion Group
PO Box 158, Kingston, NH 03848-0158
603/642-8011 or TWM@clariongp.com
Website: www.clariongp.com

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Contact Clarion Group

CLARION GROUP Food Service Consultants, P.O. Box 158, Kingston, NH 03848-0158

Phone: (603) 642-8011    Fax: (603) 642-7744    info@clariongp.com

Offering food service management consulting, hospitality services consulting, sustainable dining facility design.
Nationwide food service consultants.

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