The food service industry was hit hard by the pandemic and unfortunately, the problems aren’t in the rearview mirror just yet. When restaurants across the nation were forced to close, owners looked forward to a time when their empty tables would be full again. But with that day here, many are still struggling; not because customers aren’t showing up, but because they can’t find workers. According to the National Restaurant Association, employment at eating and drinking establishments is 1.5 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels, forcing many business owners to think more strategically about how to reduce their labor woes.
While there isn’t a magic fix for a labor shortage, there are ways restaurant owners can help retain and support the staff they have right now. Smart kitchen technologies, like Open Kitchen, have the ability to transform operations by improving efficiency and reducing costs for a long list of back-of-the-house responsibilities, from cooking food and maintaining equipment, to disinfecting stations, reporting on safety and more.
So what is a smart kitchen exactly? Smart kitchens connect, analyze and control equipment using the power of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) to reduce operating costs, ensure system uptime and product quality, and cut energy and maintenance expenses. Intuitive online and mobile interfaces lessen the burden on employees and let them focus on the things that really matter.
Here are 3 ways a smart kitchen specifically reduces challenges during a labor shortage:
1. Lessens the burden on employees.
By automating kitchen and maintenance processes, restaurant owners are able to enhance operations and reduce administrative burdens on their employees. A smart kitchen can do things like text and email your staff about equipment issues, ensure all of your equipment rapidly receives the latest recipes, and easily automate, archive, search and distribute HACCP Food Safety reports. Automated actions such as these make it possible to eliminate paperwork and simplify admin tasks so your staff can focus on their customers.
2. Makes employees happier and more productive.
A happy employee who enjoys their job is more productive and likely to stick around. Luckily, a smart kitchen does more than just improve your business’s bottom line. For example, the ability to control energy use and temperatures (which also helps optimize HVAC performance), ensures employees aren’t sweating or freezing and, in turn, are less distracted. Having the ability to alarm workers when food is not being stored or prepared at the proper temperatures, or for the right amount of time, can also eliminate job stress and provide them with peace of mind.
3. Keeps employees feeling confident and safe.
Coming in contact with a lot of people at work, especially in a post-pandemic world, can be stressful for food service workers. Deploying and integrating new technology with your smart kitchen, like a no-filter air purification system and/or antimicrobial LED technology that greatly reduces bacteria and other unwanted microorganisms, can help keep employees safer and make them feel more confident while on the clock.
Looking for a strategic solution to ease your labor challenges? Email one of our experts to get the conversation started.