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The New Normal

As we are being asked to distance ourselves from our workplaces, others around us and our daily norms, we are relying on the ability to work in the online world. Other industries outside of the catering industry have been moving this way for many years, so now is the moment where we as an industry need to look at how we can do business now in order to get through the next few months, while also  setting ourselves up for the future.

The first and foremost priority is a dramatic cultural change to your organization. Here is what you need to think about when moving to a remote working situation:

  • Create a workspace where your entire team can access information from their home computer or phone:

o   IM messaging services for interpersonal communication

o  Web services for meetings and conference calls

o   VPN connections to hosted servers

o   Remote login applications

o   Convert to web-based software

  • Dramatically shift from a manual paper process to digital document storage where common documents can be edited and shared in real-time
  • Evaluate long-standing processes and procedures that fall into the bucket “that’s just the way we do it.” Every process is now on the table to be looked at, torn down to its roots of effectiveness and reviewed to determine whether the process can sustain you, not just today, but for the next few years.
  •  If you have an online Event Management System, evaluate its current usage and develop a game plan and action items to use it to solve some of these basic adjustments. These are designed and developed for communal online offices to manage your entire operation

If you take the approach, that at the end of this pandemic, as well as an immediate recession, that “We are open for business as usual” you may be already too late.

Here are some software solutions that you can use now.

  • Document Sharing: Google Drive, DropBox, Microsoft Notes, Microsoft SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, Apple iCloud
  • Online Meetings: Zoom, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Cisco Webex, FaceTime, Boardable, OneNote, Trello, Zenkit, Slack
  • Remote Login:  LogMeIn Team Viewer, Remote Utilities, Areo Admin, AnyDesk, Chrome Remote Desktop, Windows Remote Desktop. Microsoft Quick Assist

There are other innovations and technologies that can address other areas of operation, but for the now it is vital to get your team connected as a virtual office to plan, communicate and interact from the comfort of their home office.

These are nervous times, but as a community we can move forward. But where do you start? Get your team involved and engaged in the process on what makes sense for them! Reach out to other caterers to see how they are managing, and connect with industry partners who can get you up to speed faster than trying to learn and implement a whole new approach to the way you do business. If you have questions feel free to contact me directly at [email protected] and we can discuss your options.

In the end, yes there will be a future to our industry, however it will not look like it did.

John Reed

Owner, Custom Culinary Solutions, Chicago, IL

John Reed is a professional chef with over 30 years’ experience. He is the owner of Customized Culinary Solutions, a culinary consulting firm located in the Chicago Northshore area. He works with restaurant, catering, and foodservice companies to provide the highest quality food possible. His contributions include menu and recipe development, emerging concept development, and transition management for companies introducing culinary and production software programs. His company specializes as an on-demand culinary department supporting out-sourced culinary project management.

An active member of the ACF, he has earned certifications as a Certified Executive Chef, Certified Culinary Administrator, and American Academy of...