restaurant shifts

Assessing how restaurant shifts have been changed by COVID-19

A common topic of discussion in the latter half of 2021 within the foodservice industry was the ongoing labour shortage. That has been well-documented, but what about those staff who have been clocking in to their restaurant shifts throughout the pandemic?

COVID-19 hasn’t just caused the workforce to shrink and stretched restaurant operations in both the front of back and house, but it has also changed the nature of the day-to-day job for many workers.

A new report from 7shifts has looked at how the types and frequency of restaurant shifts have changed between 2019 and the end of 2021.

The company analyzed the types of shifts scheduled and time clocking data from over 13,000 restaurant locations in Canada and the U.S., accounting for only those restaurants that have remained open from 2019 through 2021.

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The data found that shift schedules for back-of-house managers (125 per cent), dish/prep staff (117 per cent), and cooks (111 per cent) more than doubled in the two-year period. In addition, schedules for drivers also jumped by 85 per cent. The report suggests these findings are strongly indicative of the shift towards off-premise dining brought upon by the pandemic.

Even as dining rooms reopened, the habit of pick-up and delivery has stuck, and restaurants have to adapt by staffing up on back-of-house roles. Now, with dining rooms beginning to shut again in places like Ontario and Quebec, those roles will be crucial once again.

Another change in service style has been the increased prevalence of outdoor dining and patio season, which has extended beyond the warmer months into a year-round affair in many cities such as Toronto and Vancouver. That was reflected by a recorded increase of 77 per cent in patio roles.

Meanwhile, owners and shift managers appear to be picking up the slack created by the labour struggles, with their number of scheduled shifts increasing by 127 per cent and 121 per cent, respectively.

In addition, the number of shifts scheduled for training has increased by 120 per cent, and the 111 per cent increase in the shifts for crew members perhaps indicates that cross-training employees across roles is increasingly popular and restaurant owners are turning to multi-faceted roles to fill gaps in scheduling.

In stark contrast, front-counter roles are down by six per cent, indicating that the effects of dining restrictions and increased volume off-premise are showing signs of permanence. Food preparation roles are also down slightly, reflecting the changing landscape of the industry, while the role of banquet server is down 35 per cent and perhaps threatening to fade into irrelevancy.