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Before March, 2020 only 7% of U.S. employees worked from home on a regular basis before the advent of Covid-19. National Compensation Survey, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A similar trend was seen in Europe, with most countries having up to 10% of remote employees working from home. The exceptions were Sweden, Netherlands and Denmark which had a higher percentage. According to a 2017 study of 30 European countries, 23% of Danes, 21% of Dutch and 18% of Swedes worked from home "at least several times a month."
In January 2020, a Gallup poll's finding suggested that remote work was seen as a highly sought benefit and that 54% of office workers were willing to move to another company if such a "perk" was offered. The majority of workers who had access to WFH before 2020 belonged notably to the higher paid, management and white-collar professional bracket.
The onset of Covid-19 raised the number of telecommuters to 64% and gave a higher proportion of the workforce a taste of WFH.
It appears that having had this taste, many now have a preference to continue this arrangement as much as possible. This is compared to 41% who said they wanted to return to a physical office location. The reasons cited by the former include productivity gains, flexibility and doing away with commuting time and costs. (getAbstract survey). Furthermore, they've settled into their home office setup and routine.
Employers Benefit Too:
The increase in productivity is not mere self-assessment to justify working from home. It's backed by research findings.
Aside from increases in productivity and higher worker morale, employers get to benefit from reduced office costs and an access to a wider talent pool. Many companies are not just hiring locally but from a nationwide pool. They also recognise that offering remote working opportunities is a way to attract and maintain skilled workers
It does seem like remote working is here to stay. Remote working was in existence and growing before 2020 and the Covid outbreak merely accelerated its uptake. As well, employees are asking for it and employers are benefiting from lower office rental costs amongst other things.
The Specialty Food Association (SFA) Trendspotter Panel has identified five trends for 2022 in the specialty food industry.
Pasta: The COVID-19 pandemic increased consumer desire for comfort foods, and pasta was one of them. The rise of low-carb diets like keto and paleo slowed down the category, but the resurgence has healthier, alternative pastas at the forefront. Gluten-free and alternative grain pastas such as black rice, pumpkin, red lentils and purple carrots are bringing ❝new spins on traditional pasta in Instagram-friendly ways,❞ said Jonathan Deutsch, Ph.D., professor of Culinary Arts and Food Science, Department of Food and Hospitality Management and founding director, Drexel Food Core Lab.
Plant-based comfort food: Perhaps riding on the same pandemic wave as pasta, plant-based comfort foods are rising in popularity. It allows those with special diets, including the uber-popular plant-based diet, to indulge in items they love. Hot items include plant-based patties, pea-protein based crumbles to use in tacos and tenders, and nuggets made with Chilean seaweed.
Global flavors: With world traveling being stemmed, consumers traveled through their food, particularly their snacks. Those include those delivering Thai flavors while being keto-friendly and high in prebiotic fiber to potato chips from Spain in foie gras flavor, as well as peanuts flavored with turmeric and chili - ❝like the spicy peanut snack from hawkers on street corners in Bangkok that I relished as a child,❞ said Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., CFS, IFT fellow, principal, Corvus Blue LLC.
Hot peppers are the fourth trend with consumers learning how to use the correct peppers in certain recipes, snacks and condiments - another result of many people having more time to experiment in the kitchen.
Foods with benefits: Consumers are prioritising health now, and they are leaning into the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of functional foods and beverages not only for their immunity-boosting abilities but also anti-aging benefits. Examples include functional gummies; oils marketed as cosmetic oils to drink or use topically for the complexion; drinks that pair mango with collagen for protein and potential beauty benefits; turmeric for anti-inflammation, and a butterfly pea flower extract, high in anthocyanins which shows skin anti-aging promise.
The panel also found that sustainability, cocktail culture and twists on chocolate classics are trends that are continuing to gain momentum.