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San Francisco To Ban Workplace Cafeterias?

By Greg Zimmerman Facilities Management
workplace cafeteria

For many facility managers, the workplace cafeteria is the bane of their existence. It is expensive to operate and hard to clean and maintain, and it produces smells that seem to waft into the rest of the workplace despite every effort to contain them. But for many organizations, upper management sees tremendous benefit in the workplace cafeteria. Workers see it as a nice perk, and management sees it as a productivity builder because keeping workers in the building means they will spend less time away from their desks, or so the thinking goes.

So the workplace cafeteria definitely has its pros and cons, depending on who you ask. But what if it just went away? That might seem crazy. But in San Francisco, two city legislators are proposing a ban on on-site cafeterias, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

The idea is that if there were no workplace cafeterias, workers would be more likely to frequent local restaurants for lunch, keeping the restaurants healthy and doing a robust business. Beyond that, tech workers who have a reputation for living in their own organization’s bubble would have to engage more with the urban community.

If adopted on a vote set for September, the measure would change zoning laws to ban workplace cafeterias that offer free food in new buildings, but it would not apply retroactively to existing facilities.

The measure was met with swift opposition. One economist pointed out that workplace cafeterias employ a large number of people at good wages, so banning them would have a negative effect on the local economy. A similar ban on workplace cafeterias  that offer employees free food is already in place in Mountain View, Calif., home of Google and where Facebook is planning to open a new office.

This Quick Read was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, executive editor, Building Operating Management. Read his recent story about the new LEED v4.1 rating system.


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