As the pandemic continues, hybrid work arrangements look like they may be here to stay for many – if not most – companies around the country. Global research indicates that 72 percent of corporate leaders plan to offer hybrid models of working. How might your restaurant meet the moment? If your dine-in business lunch traffic continues to be low, could your business find a new way to attract the guests who used to come to you? Panera, for one, has been acting on a new strategy aimed specifically at remote workers. They are offering scheduled group ordering, as well as catering for companies with workers in different places. At a time when companies are trying to navigate how to maintain camaraderie across employee teams that may only see each other for a few days each week in satellite offices, offering a regularly scheduled catered lunch might be an appealing way to make the most of the time employees spend face to face. Or, you could target the large population of consumers working from home. The World Economic Forum said recently that up to 20 percent of the U.S. entire workforce will continue to work from home permanently, up from 5 percent pre-pandemic. If you’re located in an area with condominium complexes where people are apt to be continuing to work from home, offering a scheduled building-wide delivery might enable you to attract lunchtime traffic – even if it’s not in your dining room
Among the many aspects of life that are evolving because of the pandemic is residential real estate – perspectives are changing about the best places to live and people are looking for their living environments to fill a wider variety of needs. While flight from urban areas might not be as pronounced as media reports might have you believe, according to a Barclays Capital report on commercial real estate, urban developers are still feeling the need to redesign communities to attract and retain residents in creative ways: Think multifunctional spaces that allow people to live, work, socialize, work out and eat without leaving the complex. As a result, these developments are becoming a growth area for ghost kitchens. The Spoon reports that the virtual restaurant network C3 has partnered with an apartment developer to serve up meals for delivery, as well as for onsite service in bars and pool areas at communities in Phoenix and Nashville, with other cities being added soon. If your restaurant is looking for a new niche, consider making a pitch to self-contained living environments – from extended-stay hotels to apartment complexes to senior living condominium communities. These facilities may not only have the kitchen space your business needs but also the concentrated demand for food that feels special.