Touchless lattes and self-service kiosks: office break rooms go virus-proof

In this news, we discuss the Touchless lattes and self-service kiosks: office break rooms go virus-proof.

(Reuters) – With dirty microwaves and sticky coffee machines with worn buttons, with styluses, QR codes, non-contact water coolers and mobile apps that choose which brew the machine will do for you.

From Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan and Goldman Sachs in New York to Fedex facilities across the United States, workers are returning after months of lockdown to the new reality of social distancing, hybrid work schedules remote and office and strict hygiene protocols.

The break room, where employees used to get their daily fix of caffeine and office gossip, is a big part of this reboot as coffee companies, such as Keurig Dr. Pepper KDP.O, Lavazza and Nestle NESN.S are deploying new technology for the COVID-19 era.

Nestle says it has worked with manufacturers to add a feature to its coffeemakers that allow users to make a selection by simply swiping a finger across the menu and delivering them to customers since June.

Lavazza launched a new model in September that works with a mobile app to make those cappuccinos and lattes without having to touch the machine.

American coffee maker maker Bunn has taken a different approach, equipping their machines with a QR code that allows users to order drinks through a web page.

Last year, supplying beans and brewers to offices was worth $ 5.7 billion in the United States alone, according to research firm Packaged Facts. Coffee companies, which have seen lockdowns wipe out so-called professional sales that also include the hospitality industry, are betting they can revive the business by addressing the concerns of workers and employers.

(Interactive chart on US coffee service sector sales here


Lavazza had a new brewer that was slated to debut at a trade show in May, but began redesigning it to add a contactless feature when the pandemic struck in March, said Bruce Williamson, vice president of the innovation and marketing at Lavazza Professional.

“We had to use the weeks (we had) very quickly to prepare an application.”

Williamson said that a survey of around 170 consumers across the United States by Lavazza in August confirmed his decision. It showed that 40% of employees expected to leave the building less often for drinks and more reliance on office supplies, but worried about the risk of infection.

“What they’re telling us is… ‘I’m going to come back to the office but I’m nervous about touching the machine.”

Employers, suppliers and designers are also experimenting with a one-stop-shop service that allows office workers to refuel without going out, while those working remotely can do so from the comfort of their home.

K-cup maker Keurig supplies coffee for “mini-markets” set up to replace office cafeterias and offers fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, coffee and more. basic products. He has also signed deals with several companies that have categorized K-cup pods and essential brewers work items and pay for their deliveries to staff working remotely, said Phil Drapeau, general manager of the company “ Away from Home ”.

(Graphic: All the buzz: coffee companies in the lead in the workplace – here)

Ford FN said more than 100,000 of its global workforce of 190,000 have returned to its facilities since May, but the cafe service remains suspended and offers pre-packaged meals and drinks instead. The builder is also testing on-site grocery kiosks selling local dairy products, produce and meal prep kits.

Goldman Sachs GS.N told Reuters 15% of its workforce in New York is back with standard precautions in place – mandatory masks in all areas except employee desks and limits on numbers people in conference rooms and common areas.

Rethink and recalibrate

Surveys and official guidelines suggest offices will only fill up gradually and may never even return to their pre-pandemic capacity.

GoodFirms, a Washington-based research firm, said this month that its international survey of 168 companies showed nearly a third of workers had already returned and nearly 60% wanted to, but more than half remained concerned for their safety.

An office catering overhaul was important in addressing these concerns, says Alicia LeBeouf, director of marketing and retail strategy at foodservice company Canteen, which has FedEx FDX.N, Pinterest PINS.N, Target TGT.N and UPS UPS.N. clients.

Buffets and chefs preparing meals to order are replaced with take out food stations at Verizon VZ.N and UnitedHealth Group Inc UNH.N; contactless coffee machines are deployed at Microsoft Corp MSFT.O; Refrigerators receive pedal doors from Mohawk Industries MHK.N and individually wrapped plastic utensils replace cutlery.

In a FedEx facility, Canteen replaced all card payment terminals at its takeout stations with Canteen’s “Connect & Pay” app, which also shows what items are available and their nutritional information.

The layout also needs to change, says Tom Vecchione, workplace strategist at New York-based architecture firm Vocon. The company is knocking down doors and removing screens for its customers to create more spacious common spaces that facilitate social distancing while replacing chairs with stools.

to discourage people from lingering too long.

LeBeouf from Canteen said employers were counting on workers returning, but would not be returning to the same office they left before the pandemic.

“We had to recalibrate and… rethink everything.”

Report by Siddharth Cavale and Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Tomasz Janowski

Original © Thomson Reuters

Originally posted 2020-09-29 04:46:13.

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