SSince the start of the pandemic, millions of workers around the world have moved away and we now have a multitude of recent studies that suggest what many workers have long argued: working remotely makes people happier, healthier and even more productive. And it is especially preferred by people belonging to underrepresented groupswho reported feeling more included and less anxious when remote.
Despite the lifting of pandemic restrictions, workers are in no rush to return to the office, or “RTO.” A tight job market makes it even harder for companies to force people back. Banks like JP Morgan initially took a hard line to end remote working, but have moved back in the face of workers’ revolts.
That’s why a growing number of bosses are offering special sweeteners to anyone who wants to turn off Zoom and return to the conference room. But will any of these tactics work?
Tree houses and virtual golf
First we had cabins. Then came the “open-space” trend. Today, companies are betting that workers want offices that are more like the home environments they are used to. During a focus group discussion titled “Designing Workplaces for Human Experience,” the architects bragged about having outfitted Uber’s new headquarters in San Francisco with luxuries like operable windows, outdoor terraces and a wellness center with suspended seating. An architect explained that he designed a floor overlooking the greenery so that “employees feel like in a tree house”.
Talk above average: In downtown New York, a real estate company installed a professional virtual golf links which uses infrared sensors and cameras to analyze your swing. Brian Wallick, chief investment officer at Nuveen Real Estate, told the New York Post that “adding equipment like golf simulators helps foster collaboration within a single user experience, especially in a commercial office building”.
A company that took literally the idea of making work feel like home: by creating private pods for employees to masturbate to. At Stripchat, a Cyprus-based adult social media company, workers can now spend up to half an hour a day on the company’s money inside a “wank pod”: a closed black sphere equipped with a comfortable chair, an Oculus virtual reality headset, lotion, lubricant and tissues. A company spokesperson said it wanted to “provide current employees and attracting new employees with a safe and comfortable space to rub shoulders.”
Free tacos and life-size chess
Companies everywhere are hosting back-to-the-office extravaganzas, like Microsoft’s recent lawn party with free tacos, gyros, fried chicken and a life-size chess board and beer garden, according to the New York Times. This was followed last week by Qualcomm’s massive shindig, where several thousand employees are said to have joined a happy hour to stock up on food, drinks and t-shirts.
Then there’s Goldman Sachs, which tried to attract workers at their offices by bringing in food trucks serving everything from lobster to donuts, and playing live music outside his offices in the afternoons. In some of its offices, it now offers free breakfast, lunch and ice cream in addition to a dinner allowance (although staff complain that the $25 the investment bank provides is not enough to get a burrito delivered).
But some companies are cutting spending. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, raised the ire of its well-paid employees by delay his free dinner from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. On an internal bulletin board, CTO Andrew Bosworth defended the changes, suggesting employees were acting within the law, according to The New York Times. Another foodservice worker added, “I can honestly say that when our peers fill three to ten boxes of steak to take away to take home, no one cares about our culture.”
Scooters and Teslas
Google reimburses its US-based employees for a monthly fee to ride a smooth Unagi electric scooter. The scooter-sharing service normally costs $49 per month, plus a $50 sign-up fee. But employees must use the scooter at least nine times a month to qualify for Google’s reimbursement. “They know there are apprehensions among employees,” said Unagi CEO David Hyman. The edge. “People have really gotten used to working from home. And they just try to do whatever they can to improve the return experience.
But if a scooter seems like a disappointing perk, real estate group CoStar has decided to enter its employees in person into a raffle to win a Tesla. (He also gave $10,000 in cash to a randomly selected in-person worker every day for a month.) Company CEO Andrew Florance told the Wall Street Journal, “Yeah, that’s a lot. money, but in the context of a multibillion-dollar company with thousands of employees and hundreds of offices, it’s a drop in the ocean. So you can have fun, you can inspire people to do the right thing” – like getting back to the office.
cats and dogs
For employees who had a pandemic pet in 2020 and did not fully consider how they would care for it post-lockdown, a number of companies are now offering “pet allowancesa monthly reimbursement for dog walking, cat sitting or any other care a four-legged friend may need. This makes sense when you consider a recent survey This shows that two-thirds of pet owners have sought more flexible employment to spend more time with their fur babies.
Many other companies simply let their employees bring their pets to work. The growing number of pet-friendly offices are filled with water bowls, chew toys and poo bags. It’s not just a ploy to bring pet owners back to the office: to research also shows that the presence of a dog can do wonders for collaboration. Allergies, not so much.
Four-day weeks and paid holidays
A recent survey found that the perks workers really want aren’t ping-pong tables or free beer, but the freedom to choose when and how to work.
But even so-called hybrid approaches – in which workers come for part of the week – are rebuffed by employees. Even though Apple has touted its products as enabling a new generation of remote working, it requires employees to return to the office at least three days a week from late May. An employee clung to Bloomberg“Working from home has so many benefits. Why would we want to go back there? Another complained that forcing workers to drive two hours a day undermines Apple’s environmental goals.
If bosses have long pushed the idea that workers must choose between flexibility and job stability, the pandemic has proven that you can have both. And as management tries to get people back into the office, more companies are now offering flexible hoursincreased or unlimited paid vacationwidened sick days, childcare benefits, wellness programsand employee assistance programs. Some companies try four-day work weeks while paying workers for five and seeing that workers are happier and do better.