If your restaurant is slow during weekday mornings or afternoons, making your establishment more work friendly for remote workers is a great way to fill seats during those hours. Since many people are working remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ll be looking for a restaurant or cafe to work away from home. Many of them choose to work at a nearby restaurant so they won't get distracted by the television or be tempted to take a nap during the day. Not to mention, students and remote workers seated at your tables can make your establishment look like a hot spot even with low customer traffic. You can make your restaurant more friendly to students and remote workers by following these tips.
Offer Free WiFi
While practically every restaurant offers free WiFi these days, not all offer a quality WiFi connection. A good WiFi connection is fast and reliable so as not to frustrate customers with the need to constantly reconnect their laptop or tablet. Research what type of service is right for you based on how many customers you estimate will visit your restaurant and the type of work you observe them doing. Train your staff to manage the WiFi settings and help customers connect to the internet.
Install More Electrical Sockets
Ensure there are plenty of outlets available for customers as they will most likely be using their laptops or tablets for work. Having outlets near the seating area prevents their laptops from running out of battery and keeps their phones charged. Look for dining tables with built-in outlets and have them professionally installed to prevent having too many charging cables running across the floor and cause a tripping hazard. Much like a wet floor sign, you will also want to put up signage that indicates how to properly use outlets. For example, signage that prohibits wet hands or children from touching outlets or electrical equipment. Remember to periodically have a professional check your electrical installations to make sure everything is working properly and keep your establishment laptop friendly.
Modify Your Tables & Seating
For remote workers, wide dining tables work best because they can double as a workspace. A table with ample space allows them to place their laptops, phones, notebooks, and food comfortably in one place. You can also set up long communal tables for colleagues or study groups that want to get together to work on a project. The same goes for customers that come unaccompanied, you’ll want to accommodate them with solo seating tables so they won’t be disturbed by their neighbors.
Note: Keep tables at a safe distance from each other to prevent the spread of germs, viruses, and diseases.
Adjust Your Lighting
Customers will need good lighting to read text on screens and papers which is why you’ll want your light bulbs to emit more white than yellow light, as white light is the best at illuminating papers. If you have large windows don’t cover them up. Take advantage of the natural light and let it flow into your establishment.
Offer A Wide Variety Of Drinks & Snacks
Coffee is one of the most essential drinks to offer your remote customers to help keep them energized while they work. Offer a variety of hot and cold coffee drinks and other beverages such as teas or smoothies to help them get through the day. When it comes to food, breakfast and lunch meals are great options but put more of a focus on snacks that customers can munch on while they work. Consider treats such as mini donuts, empanadas, or avocado toast.
Create A Separate Working Area
On the odd occasion, a large party happens to walk in and disturb your working patrons, you can offer customers to sit in a quiet, separate area that is designated for working or reading. Some operators have turned this area into a lounge space where there are more seating options available, such as lounge chairs or couches. If you play music in the background, make sure the volume is low or turned off completely in this area. You’ll also want this area to be away from noisy traffic and alert customers to speak at a low volume.
Offer Printing & Faxing Services
Consider adding a printer or fax machine that is exclusively for customer use. You don’t have to place them where everyone can see, as the sight of office equipment might ruin the ambiance of your restaurant. Simply let your customers know that printing and faxing services are available in case they need it.
Are Remote Customers Right For Your Restaurant?
While you will be creating a convenient space for remote workers, you must ask yourself if this is the type of customer that’s right for your business. Creating a work-friendly space means that remote workers will be staying longer and result in a slower table turnover. Not to mention, having public WiFi can attract hackers and breach your cybersecurity and this will require you to have high-quality and expensive security measures. There’s also the issue of having a restaurant that is too quiet, as remote workers will prefer to be in a noiseless environment. If your restaurant is geared more towards being a fun place to socialize, then a work-friendly atmosphere would not be the right fit for your establishment.
On the other hand, remote working customers will probably become regulars and order snacks throughout their visit. There’s also the probability of them spreading the word that your restaurant is a great place for working away from home. With this in mind, take some time to consider if you and your target customers would benefit from creating a work-friendly environment.