Reprinted from Vending Market Watch

Despite typically spending longer work hours when at home, most people enjoy working remotely and want the option to keep doing so after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent Harvard Business School Online survey.

“The past year has been difficult for everyone, but what’s surprising is how well people feel they’ve performed at work, while at home,” says HBS Online executive director Patrick Mullane. “Now, as we’re preparing to get back to ‘business as usual,’ it seems professionals don’t want ‘business as usual.’ Instead, they want flexibility from their employers to allow them to maintain the new work/home balance and productivity they have come to enjoy.”

While professionals miss their colleagues, 81% surveyed by HBS Online indicate that they either don’t want to go back to the office or would prefer a hybrid schedule from now on. About 27% of employees hope to work remotely full time and another 61% would like to work two or three days a week from home. Only 18% want to go back to the office full time.

What does this mean for micro market, vending and office coffee service operators?

Steve Glosser, cofounder and chief integrator of Translucent LLC, is advising operators to expect office populations to be at about 50% capacity, compared with pre-pandemic levels, for some time. Glosser shared that estimate last month during a NAMA webcast on micro markets.

While this may sound like bad news for convenience services, there is a silver lining. Micro markets are forecast to grow in terms of new location openings and in size at existing locations.

Markets are becoming a recognized alternative to manual workplace cafeterias, which are downsizing, reducing hours or just closing. And manufacturing facilities are expected to have steady demand for vending machines and micro markets, industry observers predicted.

Since it’s in the business of supplying coffee to office dwellers, the OCS segment will have a long road to recovery.