If you were fantasising about returning to the office one day and resuming the usual lunch with colleagues, think again!
The new L107 (‘the ONE‘, Brussels), apparently the role model for all Commission buildings in the very near future – will not have a canteen, even though it will house more than 1500 staff – indeed, such a large number of people would fully justify the presence of a canteen. So, it seems that with the ‘new normal’, everybody who wants to eat in this showpiece Commission building will be treated to the following choice: either try to run faster than the others to get a spot at the – very small! – cafeteria in the building or lose a lot of precious time to go to possibly overcrowded canteens in other buildings.
If you are wondering whether a more sensible alternative would be brining your own lunch, you might be disappointed once again: reportedly, in a recent meeting it was pointed out that there was not enough space in the fridges for everybody, and the Office for Infrastructure and Logistics in Brussels (OIB) suggested that staff should become more creative with their lunch! It seems that one suggestion made was to telework only half a day and have lunch at home!
Really??? Come to the office only for half a day in order to enjoy the luxury of a normal lunch? So much for going to the office to socialise and network with colleagues. Hot-desking is being sold to staff as a way to increase collaboration, while in fact people might not even be able to get together at lunchtime for a chat.
We also query the suposed ‘greening’ effect of a half-day teleworking timetable: if staff have to commute anyway to come to the office, congestion and pollution are not reduced, and instead of ‘Greening the Commission’ we might as well call this “Greenwashing the Commission”!
We are checking the hard facts on the availability of fridge space in the new buildings: we have been reassured that fridges will be available and should be large enough (maybe your sandwich will fit if it is really small??), but we will keep monitoring the situation. However, this approach confirms once again that the goal of this new building policy is to dramatically reduce costs and shift them onto workers, without properly taking into consideration health, safety and appropriate working conditions for the European civil service. When workers have to cope with wild rumours on the extent of changes in working conditions and with the fear of being denied even their basic right to a proper lunch during their working days, things have already gone terribly wrong.
Further to this, there is the ongoing issue of teleworking parents and the availability of crèches close to where they live. Crèches continue to be located close to the offices and so teleworking parents continue to have a daily commute, whether they themselves visit the office or not. While parents are understandably pleased to have daycare open again, a revision of this set-up could substantially improve their work-life balance, returning to them some precious time from an already-very-busy day,and reducing the the environmental impact and costs of this out-of-date system.
Please do not hesitate to contact us and share your ideas and experiences.