A prescription for getting employees back to the office

June 23, 2021

Over the past four weeks, I have spoken to several operators and facility managers to get a handle on the direction of the workplace. Opinions vary and one new catchphrase has emerged when referring to the percentage of employees who will ultimately return to the office: 70% is the new 100%.

Leaving your comfort zone

One note of encouragement for operators: there are many employers out there who want as many people back in the office as possible. When an operator is serving that type of client, they need to do what they can to support the “get-them-back” effort, even if that means moving out of the typical operator’s comfort zone.

Quite the new HQ

Andrew Barrett-Weiss is a senior operations executive at GoodRx, healthcare company based in Santa Monica, California. His title – Director, Workplace Experience and Build Out the New HQ Guy – is a dead giveaway of how creative the work environment is at Good Rx, where they are determined to bring back employees.

Barrett-Weiss explained the thought process: “If you create an environment that people want to come back to, they will come. Will it be a 100%? No, it's not going to be a 100%. What we are finding is that some people want to be here every day and there are some people who want to be here three or four days a week, and there are some people never want to set foot in an office again.”

Not everything works well from home

Barrett-Weiss explained the challenge like this: “If all your work is execution, you can probably do it at home. If your work is ideation, new idea development, creation of new programs and interaction, you must be in the office most of the time.”

What is GoodRx doing to bring people back to the office?

Watch the video. In this video interview, Barrett-Weiss treats us to a quick tour of GoodRx’s amenity-laden facility. We need more companies thinking like GoodRx.

But wait, there’s more

Barrett-Weiss noted that as his company opens up, there will be catered lunches every day, the addition of a courtyard for more outside work in the beautiful Santa Monica weather, an indoor game arcade will be added with classic 1980s games, a fitness area that also includes programs to enhance mental health and, as Barrett-Weiss put it, “lots of other good stuff to come.”  

The power of FOMO

“We're making it a place that people can't resist,” said Barrett-Weiss. “We are really open to anything we can to drive them back into the office. It is absolutely with intention to encourage people – not to make them feel like they have to come in, but that they want to come in. I think FOMO – fear of missing out – is very powerful."

Operators: time to step up

What can operators do when clients like Andrew Barrett-Weiss ask the question, “How can you help me bring employees back?” According to some operators, that question is being asked on a regular basis. On the OCS side, there are many good answers and as I noted earlier, sometimes it means that an operator must step out of their comfort zone.

Here're some ideas for office coffee service operators to promote FOMO and help clients “get them back.” Consider:

  • Double up on your effort to make local roaster offerings a major part of your product mix. Make sure you know the story behind each one.
  • Invest in bean-to-cup brewing. If the client has been reluctant to have one, now is the time to offer a bean-to-cup machine and watch your revenue grow. And fill those bean hoppers with premium local roasts.
  • Offer the idea of a pantry service with “training wheels.” Free beverages to start with and a modest selection of snacks. When that type of amenity newly appears in an office, it is a big deal.
  • Seize the moment to introduce premium teas, flavored creamers and cold-brew coffee. If a client is ready to dispose of their pre-COVID frugality, make plenty of suggestions.
  • Countertop ice makers are a nice addition to any office. How about adding the FRIIA water dispenser? This stylish little dispenser pays off like a long-term annuity for operators.
  • For offices like GoodRx (plenty exist) there are virtually no limits to enhancing the employee experience. Consider VICKI, which sells CBD products as part of a turnkey unattended retail program from Chemesis International, led by Josh Rosenberg, chairman of NAMA. ViaTouch Interactive Media developed VICKI and awarded Chemesis the exclusive rights to use the kiosk for the CBD unattended retail market. CBD is all about wellness. In certain offices, it is a perfect fit.

A strong case of FOMO

Looking down the road…

  • ColdSnap will soon introduce a countertop machine makes everything from ice cream to frozen yogurt to coffee drinks. Prototypes are being launched soon. The ColdSnap unit is ecofriendly, has no clean-up issues and is totally recyclable. For the amenity hungry office, ColdSnap could be the answer when it becomes available.
  • Earlier this month, I wrote about the griin Micro Roaster – a compact unit that brings clean, quiet and AI-driven green coffee bean roasting to the workplace. So advanced, it looks like science fiction – but griin is real and it is coming soon to qualified operators. For operators who embrace it and locations who want the thrill of having the freshest coffee possible, griin offers an exciting solution that will promote a strong case of FOMO.

Recoup those lost dollars

In January 2020, some clients were starting to put the brakes on spending a bit, forcing operators to sharpen their pencils after years of robust growth. Many of those same office managers are now looking for ways to ramp up spending to make the workplace more attractive to their employees.

Operators need to help them out. This is your time to expand offerings and to start recouping some of those lost dollars, even if 70% is the new 100%.


Industry consultant and contributing editor Bob Tullio (www.tullioB2B.com) is a content specialist who advises operators in the convenience services industry on how to build a successful business from the ground up and advises suppliers on how to successfully connect with operators. Tullio’s YouTube channel, b2b Perspective, is designed to “elevate your business in two minutes.” Tullio is currently developing an online course, Leverage the power of LinkedIn to grow your business.

As he is a recognized industry expert in business development and sales, NAMA retained him to write and narrate their online course, “Selling Convenience Services,” which is now available. Use discount code B2B10 for an instant discount and for free access to upcoming Q&A webinars from Tullio in the coming months. Here is a free sample of the course.

On Tuesday, Aug. 17, at The NAMA Show in New Orleans, Tullio will be presenting a 3-hour Pre-Conference Session, "Selling Convenience Services: A Playbook for Sales Professionals."


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