26th August 2020

Keeping the ‘social’ in ‘social distancing’

Summary:

  • Shift in working patterns
  • Great breaks enhance productivity
  • Safe socialising
  • Keeping the ‘social’ in ‘social distancing’
  • Enhancing Employer Brand

Over the last few months, there’s been much talk of a revolution in working patterns. The focus has – understandably – been on where people are working, and how effective and productive they can be while working from home.

Less attention has been paid to the pattern of work over the course of a day or shift, but it’s just as important, wherever that work takes place. Breaks help to keep us healthy, happy and productive – and in the current circumstances, that’s more necessary than ever.

For people returning to the workplace, there’s the stress of adapting to new ways of working. For those who never left it, there’s the pressure of keeping on top of safety measures. And for those still working at home, there’s the challenge of staying motivated and productive. A good break won’t fix all of these issues – but it can certainly help. So, what can businesses do to encourage and enable quality breaks?

First, it’s absolutely essential to make socialising safe – because the social side of breaks is one its most important benefits. According to David Savage, Associate Professor of Behavioural Economics at the University of Newcastle in Australia,

“Humans are social animals; even the grumpy ones like to be able to complain to their friends.”

Our own Global Eating at Work Survey supports this: 70% people with access to an on-site restaurant said they eat with their workmates, and that “having a chat with colleagues over lunch helps me build stronger relationships.” These workplace friendships benefit everyone, making colleagues happier at work, and teams stronger and more productive. For home workers, remote catch-ups might be an option. For workplaces, it’s all about keeping the ‘social’ in ‘social distancing’. 

Convenience is also key. Our survey found that 34% of people took their break in a workplace break area, and 24% at a workplace restaurant, with location as one of the main drivers.

So easy access to break space – and healthy snacks and beverages – is a must. At Compass, we’re introducing new advance ordering mechanisms to make service as speedy as possible (and safer, too) as well as putting the focus on healthier options.

Finally, quality matters. At work, food is a big part of the Employer Value Proposition, and the employee experience. It signifies much more than lunch:

74% agree that access to a staff restaurant shows an employer cares about its employees, while 52% agree that if an organisation has a staff restaurant, over half the workforce would be positively influenced to join.

Quality coffee is also increasingly important – and again, it’s about what it stands for, as much as anything else. A good coffee is a simple pleasure. It takes time and skill to make – and that gives us a chance to pause and reflect.

Crucially, stopping for our usual flat white or soya latte also suggests a return to normality, and that’s something we’re craving more than anything else. It seems nothing beats seeing friends in real life. And what better way to do it than over good food and drink?

“74% agree that access to a staff restaurant shows an employer cares about its employees, while 52% agree that if an organisation has a staff restaurant, over half the workforce would be positively influenced to join.”

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