Food service is one of the most sought-after tenant amenities you can add to your facility. Whether it’s a full-service cafeteria, a grab-and-go station or a high-quality breakroom, employees want a space to connect, collaborate and relax with some sustenance before they head back to work.
The 2019 IFMA World Workplace conference and expo in Phoenix showcased companies that champion the integration of facilities management and food service. Although their offerings varied, they all shared the goal of making facilities managers’ lives easier while improving the tenant workplace experience.
From smart vending machines to unattended micro markets, USConnect aims to integrate wireless technology and food service.
At IFMA, products on display included Bean to Cup, a popular, easy-to-use coffee machine (picture a giant, more sustainable Keurig) and a micro market with self-scanning.
“We create a culture for your breakroom, so it’s more of a destination place, a collaborative place,” says Susan Terebo, vice president of national account sales for USConnect.
Susan Terebo, vice president of national account sales for USConnect:
With the unattended micro market, USConnect can personalize a grab-and-go area for your company, with the market’s name or logos. Employees can also download an app that stores credits to pay for scanned market items at kiosks in any of your offices across the country.
Using the app to pay can earn employees bonuses and rewards.
“This helps when a client wants a cafeteria, but they don’t have the numbers for it,” says Terebo. “It’s very expensive to operate one. But this can give [your breakroom] a café feel. … When they go into their destination place, their breakroom, it doesn’t matter if they’re in Chicago or Fort Lauderdale, it’s the same experience, and they can use their [app] at either place. It makes for a very fluid breakroom, if you will.”
The goal is to keep employees happy, improve retention and offer flexibility.
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Food Service IoT with Sodexo
Sodexo provides services in a number of industries—from healthcare to schools to businesses—that can integrate facilities management and food service. Using the Internet of Things (IoT) for something like refrigeration is an example of this integration, says Will Keys, IoT product owner for Sodexo.
Will Keys, IoT Product Owner for Sodexo:
“For refrigeration or temperature monitoring, you can use that technology to find out if the fridge is out of service or temperatures are out of compliance,” he says. “You can also use that same technology for the preparation and storage of food.”
[Related: Smart Design for Shared Spaces]
As a result, facilities managers can receive communication to troubleshoot issues in real time.
“If the temperature goes above or below acceptable limits, [the technology] can notify services on site immediately, so you don’t have a lull over the weekend or a holiday,” Keys says. “Someone’s notified right away. It really reduces that risk of product loss because the time to respond is reduced drastically.”
When it comes to this kind of technology, Keys recommends deploying it with the goal of gleaning useful information. Determine what you want to know, how you’re going to use the information and the most efficient way to gather it.
“Don’t be afraid to gather it. Just make sure you’re gathering the right pieces,” Keys says.
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