How To Work With The Transformation Of Office Culture

May 7, 2015

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that by 2022, 59 percent of the workforce will be comprised of Millennials and Generation Z employees, both of which have evolving expectations of the workplace and different communication styles. As the workforce makeup changes, so too is the workspace itself.


Offices are trending to include lounge areas with WiFi connections, comfortable chairs, standing tables with bar stools and many areas for employees to charge their devices. In fact, many cafeterias are being turned into “work cafes” that are all-day workspaces. The transformation of the traditional ‘office’ gives operators the opportunity to expand services and turn a vending bank or micro market into a breakroom destination.

Getting employees back to the office

For the last several years vending operators have been seeing a change in their consumer base as employees take advantage of a new flexibility of telecommuting. Dynamic scheduling has allowed these operators to determine when a route driver needs to visit the office based on those employee schedules.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found the number of organizations allowing employees to telecommute increased from 55 percent in 2010 to 59 percent in 2014. Telecommuting on an ad-hoc basis jumped from 44 percent to 54 percent in the same period. It’s becoming harder for businesses to offer great employee benefits, due to their rising costs. Therefore, in order to attract and maintain young talent, some companies are compensating in other ways such as offering more opportunities for employees to telecommute, extend lunch breaks or have flextime during business hours.

Telecommuting, although a “perk” for employees, doesn’t always help an operator’s bottom line. And some companies are finding it’s not beneficial for them, either. In fact, Yahoo canceled its telecommuting “perk” for employees because it believed its employees were more innovative when they were in the same place.

One incentive that companies can offer employees to come back to the office involves foodservice. Vending operators can (and should) work with locations to draw employees back to the office — and attract and maintain new ones. Offering the top-selling and trending products in the way consumers want will be the main focus, but operators can also get ahead in this workplace evolution by being partners in creating a breakroom destination experience. Here are several ways to get started:

1st: Contact local architects and local Chamber of Commerce

Buildings are being put up in nearly all areas of the country. Networking with architects allows operators to be involved in the creation of the breakroom from the ground up. Not only will operators be able to suggest an open, accessible and well-traveled area for vending machines or a micro market, but also explain the support needs of a “work café” during the early stages of design, creating a more seamless end result.

Attending Chamber of Commerce meetings will allow operators to not only meet local business owners and office employees, but it will give operators the opportunity to find out new businesses (potential locations) that will be introduced.

2nd: Partner with a local community college or university

Not all operators can afford (with money or time) to create a new breakroom experience concept for each location, old or new. Instead, operators can advocate for more modern breakrooms and offer help when needed. Local community colleges and universities, have a plethora of design students who may be looking for experience. Operators can look into partnering with the school to offer a paid internship or college credit to a student who can design new breakrooms or re-design old ones.

3rd: Make a huge impact with small adjustments

Vending machines can no longer sit tucked away in a corner of an office. Instead, they should be at the forefront of an area that is considered a destination. Whether an operator is working with a small space or a very large space, small improvements will make a huge impact. Try working with the location to add WiFi to the area, if they don’t already have it. If the space is large, propose trading out traditional round office tables or long cafeteria tables with comfortable lounge chairs or a few standing tables with tall chairs. The area should include many places for the employee to plug in his or her laptop, tablet or smartphone as well. Even for manufacturing locations where employees don’t typically work at a computer, it’s important to create a destination experience where they can relax.

Rather than focusing on traditional office furniture, operators should look at local “hang outs” such as coffee shops, community libraries, as well as college campus unions and gathering spaces for inspiration as to what types of furniture to include in redesigns. The vending industry will still exist despite the transformation of workplaces, but it may just look a bit different than it did 20, or even ten years ago.