The MicroMarket Experts at 365 Retail Markets are currently responding to a global challenge: that of ensuring offices and other workplaces are as safe as possible and ready to welcome back staff.
In the UK, now that schools have re-opened their doors to teachers and children, the challenge of encouraging staff back to the office is top of HMG’s agenda – and it’s proving to be a problem that’s right up there with solving Rubik’s Cube.
A recent survey of 50 major British employers, conducted by the BBC, revealed that they had no plans to require all employees to return to the office full-time in the near future. One of the main reasons given for the lack of a substantial return was that firms could not see a way of accommodating large numbers of staff while social distancing regulations were still in place. Another factor in play is the lingering fear of using public transport as part of the daily commute.
Of course, not all businesses have the luxury of ‘choice’. They need on-site staff to deliver their products and services. Such organisations are leaving no stone unturned to ensure the safety of their workers and many are turning for advice and guidance to the Micro Market Experts at 365 as part of their preventative mission, as Paul Taylor, Head of Retail at Selecta / Express Vending, (a 365 Retail Markets partner), told us.
‘The Express Hub presents a unique solution to the many challenges the pandemic has thrown at those trying to provide a safe, comfortable and modern environment to their onsite teams to encourage them to return to the office’, he said. ‘By having 24 hour access to a wide range of food and drink, (covering a whole spectrum of items, from Falafel salad pots to rice cakes), plus the ability to remove any other person-to-person interaction through our payment kiosks or online payment app, the Express Hub provides answers to many questions COVID has raised.
365 Retail Markets can offer sanitation options that provide concise and comprehensive guidance, so operators can ensure that their MicroMarket remains in a condition of optimum cleanliness. An innovation for the company is a partnership to provide copper styluses for users. One of the key lessons we have all learnt in these unprecedented times is just how many different shared surfaces we all come into contact with and how often that happens. In the New Normal, we all have to be more hygiene conscious and that includes being proactive in controlling our contact with these surfaces. The use of copper styluses eliminates the need to touch a touchscreen. Copper is itself an antimicrobial material, meaning that it is inherently safe to touch.
The MicroMarket Experts at 365 Retail Markets have also produced a comprehensive range of POS material ensured to remind MicroMarket users of their personal roles in the quest to ensure safety, including floor decals to take the guesswork out of social distancing.
Having said all that, 365 Retail Markets are not positioning themselves as Big Brother, or even as virtue signallers. Whilst they saw an increase in the use of their app from January through the middle of June, they also noted that people weren’t abandoning credit cards and fingerprints as methods of payment. Consequently, they will continue to respond to the wishes of consumers by providing multiple options; recognising that, as people, we each have an individual response to the threat of COVID-19 and we all want to feel safe at work. Facilitating the use the payment method with which we’re most comfortable is a big part of that.
Meanwhile, many business leaders have evoked memories of Mark Twain by insisting ‘rumours of the death of the office have been greatly exaggerated’, providing a crumb of comfort for the vending and OCS industry. For instance, speaking to the BBC, Matt Hammond, Chairman of the Midlands (UK) region for Accounting and consultancy firm PwC, said that the office was ‘a must have’, particularly for younger workers. ‘We have colleagues who may be working at the end of their bed or on a return unit in their kitchen’, he said. ‘That is neither sustainable nor healthy for the longer term. As employers, we invest a huge amount in providing the right environment, the right seating and the right technology so people can be at their most productive.’
As the pandemic pans out, it is increasingly clear that the creation of a safe, secure and convenient solution that enables staff to purchase their daily food and drink requirements is an essential component in creating ‘the right environment’ – and that’s when the MicroMarket Experts at 365 Retail Markets really come into their own.
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