How Working from Home is Killing Food Workers

Working from home is killing hospitality, and that won’t change any time soon

Two charts showing the frequency of times out for coffee or restaurant dining during COVID-19.

Working from home can be great, right? Yes, your kids interrupt your work. Your co-workers noticed that your shorts didn’t match your shirt and tie, and they laughed when you wore the same outfit three days in a row. But, for the most part, people in office-type jobs have been getting along fine. 

But what’s the flipside of that? Of course we know restaurants have been devastated during the pandemic, and the little bit of takeout being ordered is not really enough to sustain restaurant owners. 

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A report from Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, in partnership with the app Caddle, surveyed 10,851 Canadians at the end of July 2020 on their future work plans and food expenses. It found that the financial impact on the food industry will be significant as more people work from home and potentially outside of urban cores. According to the survey, 37% of respondents said they visited a restaurant for a meal or break at least twice a week prior to the pandemic. When asked about their dining-out plans after the pandemic ends, the number of people who said they would continue to visit a restaurant twice a week dropped to 23%.

Households are likely wasting less food, as well, which may explain why combined sales are down. While the future lies in uncertainties, this may represent a loss of up to $20b over the entire year for the hospitality industry. This shift in work locations may be responsible for at least 30% of lost sales in food service for this coming year alone. Restaurants located in urban cores across the country will be affected the most. 

Chew on the reality that working from home for some means no work for others. The unevenness of pandemic economic life will be with us for a while. The next time you think of ordering takeout, do it.

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YW Staff

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