Must-Have Perks to Help Employees Return to the Office


Jeff Gapinski

4 men playing ping pong in an office

It’s nothing new for companies to compete for talent by dangling increasingly fun office perks. Everything from the now-ubiquitous beer and cold brew on tap to higher-end services like onsite acupuncture or private concerts can make the office an enjoyable place to be. As more and more companies of all sizes make plans to return to the office this year, it’s a good time to reevaluate what’s in your means to make employees comfortable and excited about coming back. Here are a few ideas for office perks across a range of budgets that will help everyone get back in the groove.

Take care of the basics like child care, commute, and meals 

It’s important to acknowledge that employees will have legitimate concerns regarding their return to the office that run from general health to the logistics of family care and travel costs. Start with the basics to show your team you can help with this transition. 

What’s more fundamental than the first meal of the day? Catering breakfast or lunch at the office allows your team to think about one less thing while reacclimating to this setting. It’s also a chance to mingle with coworkers and rebuild rapport that may have diminished while working remotely.

A big concern for parents will be ensuring their children have adequate care while their primary caregivers are in the office. Offering onsite childcare by trained professionals allows employees to know exactly where their kids are and gives them the peace of mind that can increase productivity. Tech companies like Amazon and Salesforce have even gone as far as to reimburse some tutoring and other backup childcare costs.

Whether or not you’re a parent, you’ll be thinking about the challenges that a renewed commute can pose, and who doesn’t want to save a buck on summer gas prices? Mass transit passes and gas or parking reimbursements will go a long way toward removing roadblocks to employees returning to the office. 

Lean into your company’s strengths

Think of something your company is uniquely suited to provide. And I’m not talking about Apple’s cheeky penchant for stocking the kitchen with as many apples as you can eat. I’m talking about Spotify’s private concerts, Airbnb’s travel stipend, and Zynga’s gaming lounge.

These market leaders might have a few more resources to expend on fun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a page out of their book. If there isn’t a unique angle to add some flash to your perks, go the personal route and poll your employees. Ask them what would make them more inclined to return to the office. Maybe it’s something that has nothing to do with the office but would be fun and help ease any nerves around returning. Figure out what’s within your budget and give a just-for-fun bonus to everyone coming back. The stories around these adventures will be a natural ice breaker around the office water cooler.

Recreate remote perks

Many employees have grown to love the flexibility of being able to attend a meeting or complete others tasks while staying active. Whether it’s a walk, twenty minutes for meditation, or a shared meal outside, encourage your team to incorporate their favorite remote work breaks at the office. 

I don’t know about your Instagram feeds, but it felt like just about everyone adopted a furry friend during their time at home. While these bonds are still forming, it might be hard to leave new buddies at home. If your office wasn’t already, consider implementing a pet-friendly policy.

Many employers helped remote workers set up a comfortable and productive space in their homes when offices closed last year. Why not reverse that, redesign the office for safety and comfort, and welcome employees back with some fun decorations, company gear, or a coffee mug with their new pet’s face on it?

Make sure some perks are aimed at making the office a fun place to spend time

Perks are meant to be a little extra and a lot of fun. In addition to productivity-based perks that make working easier, make sure that some perks are aimed at making the office an enjoyable place to spend time socializing. Events and activities that foster bonds between colleagues, even if it’s an offsite retreat, will naturally provide an incentive for coming to the office on a regular basis.

Speaking of fun, what’s more fun than a sugary treat that you don’t keep in your home? As the temperature rises, it might be time for your office to join Jeni’s pint of the month club. Want more variety? SnackMagic allows you to customize snacks for the whole team. You try grumbling about deadlines over a scoop of ice cream.

Whether it’s covering basic hurdles that didn’t have to be thinked about while working remotely or springing for perks that are purely just for fun, a little consideration for your employees’ return to the office will go a long way and set the tone for a successful return.

Let us know if any of these perks sound like a fit for your team or if you have any suggestions to add to the list! You can also share this article and join the conversation on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


Jeff Gapinski

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