"Is it Secret? Is it Safe?"
Actually, it's no secret that restaurants are hurting due to the strict restrictions still in place in most states. You don't get people literally carrying a coffin to the New York governor's office if the situation wasn't dire. Even 'Salt Bae' can't catch a break.
That's why so many in the industry have their eyes on Florida where coronavirus restrictions were recently lifted for bars and restaurants. Despite some residents' trepidation, many locations were filled to capacity with patrons thankful to be able to get a bite or a drink from their favorite eateries. With about a 2-week incubation period for the virus, the clock has started on whether Florida will see a spike in cases or not.
Other cities are lifting restrictions as well, just not as full steam ahead. Both Massachusetts and New York are allowing more indoor capacity, the latter finally allowing up to 25% seating inside. While this will help restaurants do more business, most owners say they need at least 50% capacity indoors to stay afloat. And even if the state allows for more bodies, the vast majority of New Yorkers won't feel comfortable heading inside to dine quite yet according to a poll on Eater New York.
Moment of Truth
It seems many restaurants are at their breaking point and this is the moment of truth for much of the industry: can locations reopen for indoor dining or not?
While there is still some hope for a new stimulus package (with $120 earmarked for restaurants included), it may come too late for stores that need revenue ASAP. And at this point, many restauranteurs are tired of waiting for the government to take action and would rather take their futures into their own hands.
It's a tough time for the industry, though there are still growth areas such as QSRs. But it seems like we'll know what winter will look like for business in the coming few weeks.
In Other News...
Office Space is Virtually Free
A recent Gallup poll showed that US workers have doubled their remote workdays each month due to the ongoing pandemic, and there doesn't seem to be many signs that those numbers will decrease anytime soon, even if there is a working vaccine. In short, Americans have gotten a taste of the ten-second commute and quite enjoy it, and employers are warming up to the idea as well. One advantage that companies love? The lower overhead that comes with a virtual office.
In fact, a new report by commercial real estate experts Cushman & Wakefield showed that global office vacancies will continue to rise through 2022, and it will take until 2025 for the market to recover. That may even be optimistic since many companies that can hire at the moment are expanding their employee count by adding more remote workers. Facebook, Google, and Amazon are all adding to their staff with most working from home. It remains to be seen if they ever return to the traditional office environment.
But remote expansion isn't just for the big guys; more SMBs are "expanding" their office with remote hires, enjoying this new era of low-overhead. When office space is virtually free, why not add, say, a few more sales people working remotely?
A More Efficient Workforce, in Many ways
Even pre-pandemic, research about working-from-home showed that it benefitted both the employee and the employer in various ways. Remote workers saved money on commuting, led healthier lives, and had less stress. Meanwhile, employers found that their employees worked 1.4 more days every month, on average, and also worked more minutes each workday.
Of course, an effective remote work setup takes some investment from each company to do it right. In fact, the pandemic triggered the greatest business technology spending rush in history, to the tune of $15 billion each week as employees shifted to remote work.
But these are mostly one-time investments (laptops, conferencing software, etc.) while the savings on commuting, rent, office supplies, and more will continue to drastically reduce overhead. It's no wonder more SMBs are expanding to a size they never thought they could now that they don't have four walls as constraints.
Hiring for the Long Remote Haul
The companies looking to expand remotely have to hire with this in mind, selecting candidates who are self-motivated, flexible, and understands the technological requirements to work effectively outside of the traditional office. They also need to shore up their contactless hiring & onboarding capabilities by leveraging better technology.
Finally, now that companies have the opportunity to hire a candidate regardless of geographical location, this exponentially opens up the pool of employees to choose from. Hiring managers will need a good methodology to approach this new type of national hiring.
Robert Woo is a freelance content creator for various companies from startup to enterprise-level. When not writing SEO-friendly articles, he writes and performs comedy, plays guitar, and champions the Oxford comma.