For all of the feeling that perks are unnecessary, moving away from them can still create some challenges for fostering work culture. Whether or not you think it’s clichéd, gathering around a foosball table provides at least some benefits.
Briner says traditional office spaces thrive off a certain organic social atmosphere, in which casual conversation breeds rapport and occasional creative sparks between employees. “It’s quite difficult to replicate that [team culture] online,” says Briner, but companies are still cultivating ways to make the company’s influence more tangible, even with workers sitting at home.
When her company initially switched to online work, Forray, the product manager, got a daily $20 stipend for catered lunch. “I like how that still fits in with the perk but gives you a lot of freedom with how you use it,” she says.
Workers such as PR professional Domino are also more inclined to savour the convenience of personal control over their daily lives, even if it means the end of hip offices with breathtaking city views. “What else can they offer as a perk at this point? The only thing that you can really offer as a perk in this current environment is flexibility.”
Leaders like Berg now understand this demand more than ever. With an emphasis on flexibility, he says, workers “will be more connected to the company, more connected to their colleagues and more likely to produce better results, have more fun, be more creative and make more impact”. And, according to Briner, falling back on some of those traditional perks after workplace restrictions are lifted could be seen by workers as “even more superficial, a waste of money and tokenistic”.
Post-pandemic, the best office perk may be somewhat ironic: the ability to spend more time outside the office than ever before.