Safety At Work: As people are asked to overcome their pandemic fears and return to the office, Lavazza Professional Customer Services Director Jacqui Croker-James ponders how OCS providers can help create a safe and secure workplace environment.
Remember when life was ‘normal’? It seems so long ago and back then, the changing requirements of our customers were largely manifested in the desire to try a new drink or use a cup with greener credentials. Our teams committed a great deal of energy and expertise in anticipating what the next requirement was likely to be, so that we could have the new product people wanted, when they wanted it.
I find myself wondering if things will ever again be so simple; because right now, a big decision that’s occupying many of our consumers is more pragmatic: when will they, or won’t they, return to the office environment? And how can they be kept safe when they do?
With the success of the vaccination programme in the UK and the roadmap back to ‘normality’ revealed by the Prime Minister in February, the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ is getting ever brighter. By June, if all goes to plan, businesses will soon be welcoming employees back to the workplace.
For people in my job, trying to predict how the continuing saga would pan out became an important part of our roles. With the clock now ticking down, that task has become an urgent one.
My view is this. The return to work will doubtless include measures to ensure Safety At Work, such as social distancing in the workplace. We’re already seeing this, of course, within the important cohort of key workers.
But what about break times? Many sites have communal breakout or rest areas, where our machines are located. Once upon a time, employees were able to meet and mingle over a coffee in these convivial environments, but going forward, I can’t see such interaction being allowed, let alone encouraged.
On the contrary, I imagine that the new normal in terms of Safety At Work will see the emergence of departmental ‘bubbles’ in the office. It’ll be like this: the people in Customer Services will not rub shoulders with Accounts, Sales Admin, Human Resources or Logistics. People will be encouraged to stay within their teams. Keyword? ‘Safety’.
Keeping such self-contained teams fed and refreshed in such COVID conscious environments will need a modicum of lateral thinking. When shared resources – the vending machines, for example – don’t fit into this jigsaw, new solutions have to be put in place. Instead of one coffee machine that can serve a workplace of a hundred plus people, there will be instead what I’ll call ‘bubble machines’, designed to provide a wide choice of quality beverages for individual departments or teams.
Fortunately, at Lavazza Professional, we don’t need to brief our R&D people to come up with such a machine. In our FLAVIA® range, we already have the perfect ‘bubble machines’. Some machines don’t even need to be connected to the water mains; they can be manually refilled and therefore, they can be located anywhere in the office. We have a wide choice of machines to address all requirements and all environments. They are the ideal, ready-made response to the requirement for socially distanced refreshment; the ideal bubble machines to help assure Safety At Work.
Safety At Work: how the workplace of The New Normal might look…
Where we see typical coffee machine locations such as the canteen and reception area, the office itself has changed somewhat! The coffee machine station is transformed into smaller bubble pit-stops – making sure that everyone gets the coffee they deserve, safely.
For those of us involved in Office Coffee Services, I believe that our future – for the foreseeable – lies in bubble machines. Let’s get out there and make sure our customers, and potential customers, are aware of a beverage solution that will help them demonstrate to their employees that they have, indeed, done everything they can to ensure their Safety At Work – and that they are ready to welcome them back with a great tasting cup of coffee. Or tea, or hot chocolate, or soup…