Managing your office catering post-COVID-19

Australian businesses have been either closed or running at skeleton staff levels for the past few months as the country went into lock-down. Now that restrictions are lifting and we head back to a ‘new normal’ offices are starting to return to 50% capacity or more.

As office life slowly returns to a familiar routine, and cafes and bars are opening, employees will have an expectation that their catering needs and supplies from pre-COVID-19 are met. There are many variables to consider when managing your office catering post-COVID-19 such as the type of work being carried out, the number of employees and the facilities and equipment you have on-site

Here are our top five things to consider when thinking about managing your office catering post-COVID-19, to help you finalise your back to work plan.

Think about high touchpoint areas

How is your kitchenette set up? Do you have tins full of tea bags, coffee and sugar? What other pantry and fridge items do you have? You may want to consider removing them and instead provide an instant coffee machine. This will greatly reduce the number of touchpoints. Ask staff to sanitise hands before and after each use and use single-use paper or plastic coffee cups. By removing ‘things to touch’, you’ll further reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Green may have to go

It’s very difficult to balance a greener, less waste lifestyle post-COVID-19. You may wish to keep green, however, your employees will want to feel safe at work. That means no more large trays of sandwiches where people can help themselves, or self serve cereal and nuts. Research caterers who can provide single-serve lunch boxes and contactless delivery. When you have found one that suits your needs, ask about their packaging and if they would consider recyclable materials.

If you have a commercial kitchen on site

You will certainly need to organise a deep clean for your commercial onsite kitchen before you you re-open, but also frequently as businesses adjust to extra cleaning practices and procedures. Talk to your office cleaner who can advise you of the best cleaning schedule to meet Worksafe Australia guidelines. You may also want to consider employing a cleaner during lunch, or peak catering hours to wipe down chairs, tables and remove any waste and crockery. Choosing this option also gives visibility to employees that your business is taking cleaning and hygiene seriously.

managing your office catering post COVID-19

How will employees balance lunchtime with physical distancing?

You will likely want to keep common and shared areas closed during the first phases of returning to work. This means employees will need somewhere physically distant to enjoy their lunch break. You may, for example, want to encourage staff to head out to a park or find a spot outside to sit and eat their lunch. Or, you may want to impose a rule where people eat lunch at their desk. If you take this option, it’s important you provide frequent desk cleaning and offer a supply of hand sanitiser and wipes for employees to keep their desk clean.

Remember to encourage employees to close down their computer and enjoy a book or some other activity rather than being tempted to check emails when on a scheduled break.

Communication is key

Some employees will be nervous about returning to work.  It’s critical that employees have a good idea of how the office will look and what is expected of them. Which supplies and catering will, or will not, be provided? What can they bring to work?. This ensures that from day one, your staff arrive will the right expectations. This will help with morale and reduce the number of questions and possible complaints heading to your inbox!

There are many elements to consider when managing your office catering post-COVID-19. However, it’s important to remember that there will be little issues that will cop up. As the business days start to return to a routine, some things will remain the same, but our working days will also be very different. It’s important not to beat yourself up about these minor issues and remember that everyone is trying to navigate a post-coved-19 world as best as they can.



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