Catering is one of the numerous FM services that has proven itself to be essential in recent weeks. Though a lot of workplaces have closed, schools and care homes are just two examples of places that have continued to require catering services. As we prepare for schools to welcome back students, not to mention the prospect of other businesses and workplaces reopening over the course of the coming weeks and months, demand for catering services will increase.
Catering staff are already well versed in the importance of hygiene which stands them in good stead for the challenging times ahead. But with the situation evolving on a daily basis, and new government guidance regularly being released, it’s essential that information can be shared immediately and effortlessly.
That can present a significant challenge for many organisations when staff are spread out at sites across the country. Add in the fact that the physical headquarters of a business may be closed, not to mention certain staff being furloughed or taking on additional responsibilities outside of their usual role, and the dissemination of vital information might be impacted.
Real-time communication with remote teams is critical and must be prioritised for the safeguarding of employees and the public. Smartphones and computers may be commonplace, but the means of sharing information might still be scattered. There are a plethora of messaging and project management apps, as well as emails and communications platforms, so there needs to be a clear programme in place to ensure that every member of a team receives the same information at the same time.
At Churchill, we have been navigating the process of remote team communications and management for years across a number of industries, including catering. We’ve been able to capitalise on our digital employee platform, Mo:dus, to engage with employees throughout the Covid-19 crisis.
The ability to communicate in real-time with teams has proved invaluable. Managers can share crucial government and company updates immediately. Staff are already familiar with the platform and know that it acts as the central hub for communications. In essence, having a notification ‘ping’ from Mo:dus is as common and as comfortable as having a WhatsApp message arrive.
The beauty of a single digital hub is the adaptability it offers. The ideal platform can be adapted to suit the needs of any given organisation, and can include functionality that ranges from access to payslips and time-off requests through to raising job vacancies, reviewing applications and arranging interviews.
Because everything is based on the same platform and app, users do not require training whenever a new functionality is added. Companies can save a lot of time and money by investing in such user-friendly software, especially when the need for a training session with remote teams is removed.
One example of a new function that can be added to a digital hub is the Covid-19 symptom tracker app we added to Mo:dus in May. In an effort to further safeguard our staff and customers, the app encourages employees to submit any symptoms on a daily basis and shares immediate guidance to those who may need to self-isolate.
The app gives staff a simple way to track their health and also demonstrates the lengths the business is going to in providing duty of care – this is a critical component of ensuring that staff feel comfortable coming into the workplace. We’ve been in constant contact with our catering arm, Radish, and peace of mind has been a significant consideration for all of our employees.
For managers, the app gives a real-time view of labour availability which ensures that services can continue to operate at full capacity. And for customers, knowing that their service providers are so on top of their staff’s health provides a lot of reassurance – both in terms of limiting potential contamination, and feeling confident that essential services will continue and their business will not be impacted.
This scalability has been a lifeline for us, particularly at a time when employee numbers have been fluctuating because of some customers scaling back operations. We’ve been able to adapt as necessary to ensure that our users are getting exactly what they need out of the system.
We’ve heard first-hand from our catering teams how beneficial it’s been to have real-time communication. Our staff working in care homes have been especially grateful as working with a vulnerable group has brought about a unique pressure.
The mental strain on staff throughout the pandemic cannot be understated. Safety at work, the lack of social interaction and personal concerns about family and friends are all front of mind for many. A user-friendly digital hub gives managers and employees an easy way to keep in touch. We’ve seen from both the user numbers and staff feedback just how important this has been in giving employees the support they need. In addition, all company wellbeing resources can be accessed by users whenever they need them.
The reality is that it will be a long time before things are “back to normal”. Even when they are, catering is an industry where remote teams will still be in operation and the need for real-time communication will always be as important. So whether it’s for immediate use or planning for the future, catering companies must implement a process now for real-time communication.