Recruiting in Software as far back as 20 years ago, I had the opportunity to visit clients in Silicon Valley and marvel at offices filled with in-house perks. I distinctly remember walking through offices with ping pong tables, lunch cafes, and fringe benefits that made offices look and feel more like social venues than bare functional office spaces that I had become accustomed to in my early career in the ’90s.
I left hi-tech search in 2007, so it’s been a while since I’ve seen some of the perks firsthand. However, from what I’ve read, office perks have accelerated to include extras for tech workers such as onsite massages, in-house bars, and many other fringe benefits designed to keep hi-tech employees excited about spending time in the office. More importantly, working long hours with conveniences at their fingertips or not far from their desks.
Then the Pandemic came along
I wondered what magnetism these offices maintained with employees becoming accustomed to working from home. Given a choice, would employees continue to commute into the office to enjoy all the amenities or prefer the convenience of working from home?
Before the Pandemic, many tech companies had already begun to realize that offering perks to attract talented tech employees was a war of attrition. There are only so many perks you can provide to the point where everyone is doing it, and there are diminishing returns in trying to out-perk your competitor. So, if extras, in essence, cancel each other out. What is left?
All the perks in the world won’t outweigh the benefit of flexibility given to an employee to work-from-home at their convenience.
In a recent ‘Global Work-from-Home Experience Survey,’ 73% of employees surveyed say they are very successful working from home. However, only 19% of Employees surveyed in North America wanted to say goodbye to the office for good. So, 81% prefer the best of both worlds, the flexibility to work-from-home, and the ability to go into the office. However, it is clear that the flexibility employees have in a work-from-home environment is not something they will quickly want to forego post-Pandemic. The number one aspect employees cited was their ability to spend more time with their families (34%). The second was skipping the commute (29%).
Coming out of the Pandemic, employers will need to look closely at what would work best. How do you offer employees work-life balance while giving them access to a cool office space to get out of the house once in a while? Larger employers will continue to lease space that will only be partially occupied but will likely reduce their number of offices. Smaller companies will need to look at other options such as shared office spaces, increasing events, and drive virtual contact within the company instead of sharing an office space where the cost may be prohibitive.