It’s 2022 and in the almost-post-COVID era, the return to the office is really happening. Many companies are figuring out how to bring employees back to their locations in the new normal of the on-site workplace. There’s a lot to consider to ensure that team members are comfortable, protected, and happy to be back.
Those water cooler moments or break room gatherings might look slightly different today, workspaces could be reconfigured, and for the NY and NJ clients we serve, indoor restaurant dining may not yet be comfortable for everyone.
Employers must also support their remote employees who still want to feel “part of the team.” Keeping WFH team members engaged and satisfied presents new challenges that require fresh thinking. In addition, many employers might have to balance a hybrid on-site/off-site workforce.
These factors present challenges to maintaining a positive company culture and employee connections to each other and to the workplace. Here are some ways employers can safely reopen their locations and welcome back their employees with safety and comfort top of mind.
Follow Health & Safety Guidelines
Following the current CDC recommendations is a common-sense approach that lays the groundwork for a healthful work environment, such as:
- Being cognizant of the number of occupants at any given time within any area
- Restricting random visitors or anyone who is sick or unvaccinated from entering the premises (all Corporate Essentials employees are vaccinated)
- Having personnel wear N95 or KN95 masks whenever possible indoors
- Encouraging frequent hand washing
- Installing hand sanitizer stations throughout the workplace
Boost Office Protocols, Offerings, and Equipment
At Corporate Essentials, we offer a range of products and services that add an important layer of protection and a high comfort level for your returning employees. We are talking to our New York City and New Jersey clients about:
- Air filtration – compact, hospital-grade air purifiers are a cost-efficient, highly effective way to rid air and surfaces of airborne pathogens. These portable units can be easily placed throughout all areas.
- Touchless coffee makers (such as TopBrewer) that deliver barista-quality brewed coffee drinks from freshly ground beans that can even be ordered via your mobile phone.
- Water filtration and contactless dispensing – we recommend installing point-of-use water coolers in several areas, with high-quality filtration built in. These systems reduce harmful particulates as well as waste (fewer disposable water bottles brought in by employees). We have several options for touchless dispensing.
- In-office catering reduces your employees’ need to go out for meals and be exposed to strangers whose health is unknown. This also saves employees time with gourmet single-serve meals (freshly prepared and individually wrapped) delivered to the office. Besides, nothing says “we care about you” than an innovative, delicious dish that far surpasses what your local deli makes.
- NanoSeptic self-cleaning film – this innovative product continually kills pathogens for up to 90 days. It is easily applied to all high-touch surfaces, from door handles to your copy machine buttons.
- PPE — stock the office with N95 or KN95 masks and nitrile gloves for employees to use.
Re-imagine the Employee Break Room
Returning employees will want to gravitate to the break room—the proverbial office refueling station and a powerful employee perk. Businesses must consider how to continue fueling the connections and comforts of employee break rooms, and keep teams safely snacking there. We recommend that employers:
Consider several micro break areas around the office if space permits.
- Install smaller coffee machines and snack setups in strategic areas near work groups. This will prevent people from all congregating in one or two places.
- Have whole fruit and individual-sized snacks available.
- These micro break areas are also perfect spots for the filtered water systems.
- Cover all common touch surfaces with Nanoseptic film.
Redesign the existing break room to include:
- Touchless coffee brewers (like TopBrewer) and water coolers (like TopWater)
- Hands-free paper towel dispensers and trash receptacles
- NanoSeptic film on appropriate surfaces
- Individually wrapped snacks and/or snack boxes curated according to your employees’ dietary or taste preferences
- Catered grab-and-go meals stocked in a micro market or pantry to keep your workforce safe on site (and cuts out the elevator and lunch rush wait times)
- Encourage employees to stop in quickly for what they want and bring their refreshments to their desks
Give Employees What They Crave—and Fuel Positive Company Culture at the Office and at Home
Enhanced snack options, curated selections of treats, craft coffee and interesting teas, and new age beverages remind your staff that you not only appreciate them—you get them. Taking a break—with access to drinks and foods they like and want—also increases work satisfaction and boosts productivity.
According to a recent Staples survey, 57% want healthy snacks, 63% said complimentary snacks and beverages make them feel appreciated, and 76% reported they could unwind and relieve stress with a well-stocked employee break room available. This includes fresh gourmet coffee!
We’re seeing a more discerning workforce today that expects great coffee and healthy, high-end snacks, beverages, and fresh foods that support workplace wellness. Locally sourced foods and beverages are also sought out and appreciated.
Here are some of the hot-button pantry items employees are looking for—and deliver on your promise that your company is a great place to work (and refuel!):
- Café-quality, locally roasted craft coffee
- Cold brew coffee or tea on tap
- Kombucha, coconut water, cold pressed juices, probiotic and energy drinks
- Low-fat, sugar-free, and gluten-free snacks
- Fresh fruit and veggies, dips, and other more nutritious snack options
For your work-at-home employees, you can bring the break room to them, with curated snack boxes delivered to their doors.
Imagine the look of surprise when they receive a gift of appreciation (and favored treats or coffees) from the office. While they are not working down the hall, the connection can remain strong with a weekly or monthly “break room at home”, or a snack box to mark a special occasion.
Corporate Essentials: A Leader in OCS and Employee Engagement
At Corporate Essentials, we are the single source for everything businesses throughout New York City and New Jersey need to keep employees refreshed and refueled, wherever they’re working. As leaders in the office coffee service (OCS) industry for over 25 years and experts in break room redesign, pantry services, and office catering, we help clients create a safe, healthy work environment—and deliver what their team members crave.
Contact us at 973.402.1088 for a free break room audit or to learn more about our employee engagement programs that help companies maintain a positive corporate culture and meaningful connections with their teams.