Workplace trends highlight unattended retail

May 11, 2015

One of the more uncommon concepts discussed during the 2015 NAMA OneShow was the idea of the evolving workplace. During a keynote presentation on April 23, Julie Seitz, director, Workplace 2020 from the Coca-Cola Co., talked about how large companies are finding their employees work differently today than they did 30 years ago when many of the offices and breakrooms were built. Walk around any office and you hear complaints about the grayish beige walls, the lack of natural light, the closed off spaces that make workers feel crammed and give them a false sense of privacy. The breakrooms are no different — the same drab design, uncomfortable chairs and fluorescent lights or, worse, merely a vending machine tucked away in a dark corner.

Usher in a new era

According to Seitz, that is all changing due to the advancements in technology, a younger workforce that has had flexibility and extensive travel opportunities before they even enter a full-time job as well as few employer-funded benefit programs that inspire the lifetime loyalty of the past. What does the future look like? Open, sun-lit breakrooms, more flexible work spaces that include large, open lounge areas with strong WiFi and plenty of outlets for charging electronic devices. It might even include flexible offices where multiple entrepreneurs are sharing space as they build their companies.

Vending, micro market and office coffee service operators admittedly don’t have a lot of input in how a breakroom is designed or updated. However, there are ways to take advantage of this trend. Share studies and research about breakroom design via social media, for example. Perhaps you will want to partner with an interior designer whose services you can offer if a location seems interested in renovating the break area. Large vending companies are already exploring ways of becoming breakroom experts and enjoying the rewards.

Reasons to support better breakrooms

First and foremost, operators should support this evolving workplace trend because it benefits their businesses. More “break” spaces mean an opportunity for multiple ways to deliver refreshments. Consumers are already nearby, rather than at their desks. And all of this actually makes employees more productive, not less. Synergies and creative thinking are fueled by collaboration done in these new environments and supported by vending service.

The shared office space opens up new and non-traditional location opportunities for operators. Seitz suggests networking with commercial real estate brokers or the local chamber of commerce to see where these untapped locations may be. Because founders of start-ups tend to work long hours, these could be very lucrative locations.

One last reason why the workplace evolution is great for vending is that companies are trying to entice employees back to work. Seitz says that because the upcoming workers have choices and freedom to change jobs, workplaces can’t demand they return to the office, but instead are trying to coax them in with great benefits (like tasty food and gourmet coffee). This is a new trend, starting at the coasts in the U.S., but one that promises a positive industry outlook.