The new perk your employees want is alone time

I keep in mind studying many stories about a few Google employees who lived in RVs parked exterior of the corporate’s world headquarters in Mountain View, California. Their rationale was easy: Why throw away my cash when the corporate supplies all the pieces I would like?

On the time, it was an amusing story, one that might actually solely exist within the lavish, weird universe of tech. Right now, there’s a extra horrified emotion that characterizes my response to those tales. I’ve come to view many office perks not as a profit to employees, however as an alternative as a solution to preserve them within the workplace for longer, later hours, and to additional infringe on an already-broken sense of work-life steadiness that has saturated employment within the twenty first century.

Sure, there’s a component of corporations offering way of life advantages to their employees that feels interesting. It signifies a type of luxurious or consolation for employees, as if to say, “You’ll be able to go dwelling any time you want, however you received’t want to if you see the snack bar!” However there’s additionally one thing deeply sickening about it, as a result of it implies a perception that is now all too widespread throughout many corporations, however throughout the tech trade particularly, which is a office must be almost indistinguishable from dwelling.

I as soon as labored with a head of engineering who put it fairly effectively. Throughout an all-hands, he was requested why the corporate didn’t have (regardless of having numerous beautiful facilities within the workplace) “nap rooms,” or areas the place individuals might take a relaxation earlier than returning to work? With a little bit of a wry smile, he stated, “This isn’t your home. It’s work. We don’t want you to spend 12 hours a day right here. We want you to return in, do your job effectively, and go dwelling to your household and pals.” 

We’re already seeing a whole lot of variance in how corporations have reacted to the work-from-home transition. Many have embraced it. Others have allowed it, however are desperate to get employees back into the office, fearing that productiveness is secretly waning (regardless of heaps of evidence on the contrary).

Usually, it seems that employers are on the lookout for a solution to “re-create the workplace”—and attempt to occupy simply a bit more room of their employees’ lives. And so they’re doing it by providing perks that intently mimic those they leveraged in workplaces beforehand.

Paradoxically, employees are nearer to the workplace than they’ve ever been earlier than: It’s now not an engineer or two deciding to reside within the car parking zone, however the global majority of information employees sleeping subsequent to the workplace. Workdays have also gotten longer.

So within the period of distant work, what sorts of perks ought to employers offer to their employees? The reply is easy: Allow them to do their jobs effectively, go dwelling, and provides them the area they should construct their very own lives exterior of labor.

Disconnect between worker and firm perks

There are various tech corporations that at the moment are sending their employees snack boxes. The employer believes that it exhibits they care about their employees’ well being. And for a lot of employees, it would really feel that method too. However I see one thing extra egocentric at play. It implies that individuals are going to be sitting at their desk, working whereas they eat. It additionally means that your employees must acknowledge that they’re being handled effectively sufficient that they need to forgive some lengthy nights and early mornings in service to the corporate.

“Firm perks” aren’t inherently dangerous, however they shouldn’t be confused with actual ways in which corporations can really assist their employees. No quantity of free snacks will make up for an worker dropping time with their households and pals that they received’t get again.

So what are some examples of true worker perks? Listed below are a couple of examples:

  • Paying your employees effectively
  • Overlaying 75% or extra of their healthcare premium prices
  • Encouraging time off—not as a matter of coverage, however as a matter of want
  • Not messaging or emailing your employees after 6 p.m.
  • Providing versatile, nonlinear workdays that allow employees to maintain fluid hours

This isn’t nearly defending employees; it’s additionally about stopping attrition. The Nice Resignation is a results of hundreds of thousands of individuals residing in a chaotic time and asking themselves whether or not it’s definitely worth the stress to maintain working at their job. It’s on the employer to show that it is price it, and that it needn’t come on the expense of their well-being.

Versatile workdays is the longer term

There is now a glimmer of hope for all of us to spend extra time with those we love, and employers have an enormous alternative to aggressively advocate for that very idea by means of modifications to firm coverage.

Corporations like Dropbox are casting off the standard workweek, implementing nonlinear workdays that enable employees to work round a three- to four-hour interval the place everybody is anticipated to be on-line and accessible for conferences—after which flex their days as they see match.

There are highly effective modifications that emerge because of nonlinear workdays. They restrict the variety of conferences inside a company by compressing collaboration time into fewer hours: a welcome change on condition that, in keeping with a report generated by my agency, meetings have increased 69.7% for the reason that begin of the pandemic.

It additionally permits employees to have extra fluid lives, which higher displays the state of childcare and education. Individuals want to have the ability to take time to take care of their households and deal with themselves with out worry of reprisal from their employer.

Lastly, it acknowledges one thing we’ve identified for a few years: There aren’t that many productive hours in the day. Employers are likely to view hours labored in per week as commensurate with general productiveness, and the fact is that a lot of these hours don’t result in higher outcomes.

In the event you select to undertake nonlinear workdays, don’t fall into the lure of utilizing it to create an “at all times on” tradition. After-hours is nonetheless after-hours, and time off is nonetheless time off.

The mission is what issues

What occurs at work additionally issues to worker happiness and success—however that doesn’t come from making a office that individuals by no means want to depart. It comes from individuals feeling a wholesome sense of attachment to their work, caring concerning the mission they’re on, with the complete and assured data that it could actually at all times take a again seat to their private wants.

Give them this sense of goal, and your employees received’t be wanting elsewhere at no cost snacks.


Henry Shapiro is a cofounder of Reclaim.ai, a sensible pal for your calendar primarily based in Portland, Oregon. Previous to Reclaim, Shapiro was the VP of product at New Relic, the place he labored on buying new clients and growing new merchandise.