Car-charging and dog hotels: Seven perks to lure you to the office
Lockdowns during the pandemic meant that office workers began to work from home - and they liked it. But now many companies would prefer them to come back to the office. One way to entice them is to make the workplace more attractive and offer incentives that can only be enjoyed in person.
Working from home saves staff money, something particularly appealing when inflation is high. So many of these perks are about saving on the cost of living.
If you own an electric car, this perk might appeal to you.
Software company SAP's office in Feltham, west London, has 10 parking spaces with free electric car-charging points.
There are 600 employees, so these parking spots are highly sought-after explains Paul, who works there.
"The golden rule in the office," he says, "is that as soon as your car is charged, you have to move it and send a WhatsApp message to the EV group."
The price of charging per kWh is around 51p and most cars have 80kwh batteries, so the savings are significant, he says.
This benefit tends to work best for higher earners, he points out, who are more likely to be able to afford an electric car.
Would the above free lunch offering tempt you into the office?
This is an example of what's available to employees at Time Etc, a virtual assistant platform, based in Birmingham. For dessert, by the way, it's strawberries, yogurt and a selection of cakes.
On other days there's hot offerings like curry, chilli, pasta and soups.
Working from home can save you money on meals - but of course you have the hassle of making them.
Company CEO Barnaby Lashbrooke says: "We recently introduced free lunches two days a week. These are prepared by our in-house chef with a focus on healthy options.
"We've had really good feedback so far, with increased attendance since we introduced the change. It makes going to the office a more social experience, which provides a good contrast to the days working from home."
Sausage-maker Heck has built a 'dog hotel' at its headquarters in Bedale, Yorkshire, where it has 130 employees.
It is 16 sq metres and there is a house in the middle of it which has underfloor heating and a ramp for the smaller dogs.
There is no supervision, but owners can keep an eye on them from nearby.
The team say the dogs get on well, though Dexter the spaniel once dug a hole to elope with a friend.
"We were looking for different ways to encourage people to come to our factory and head office," says co-founder Debbie Keeble.
She wanted the office workers to come in so they could build energy and be creative as a team.
During lockdown the company created "walking ambassadors" to get staff, including the sausage factory workers, fresh air on its 800-acre farm. Many had got dogs in lockdown, so the 'hotel' was born.
Would you want to go on holiday with your colleagues? Hmm. Even the annoying ones?
Sabrina Chevannes's marketing firm has 14 employees and an office in London.
Only those who "primarily work in the office", she says, get the invite for the team holiday.
"The struggle is to find a date that people can all go," says Chevannes.
Their last trip saw five employees go to Spain, flights, accommodation and all expenses paid.
"We've previously gone to Bansko in Bulgaria for skiing and we've been quad biking in Marrakesh," says Chevannes. "We always go for a full Monday-Friday as it replaces the work week.
"We check our emails while we're there, and maybe do an hour of work each day, but we then relax, party and bond."
Fancy a bit of yoga or a reflexology session in your lunchbreak, like you're in some kind of hotel?
In their newly renovated Belfast office, accountancy firm PwC has a wellbeing zone that occupies almost 3,000 sq feet of the nine-floor building.
Staff book sessions through an app.
"The space is a real motivator for people to come into the office," says Catherine Dolliver, wellbeing lead for PwC NI, "whether that is to meet friends for a class or to seek some solace from the commitments of life."
Private rooms are available for talking therapy and physiotherapy, which come as part of an employee medical benefits package.
Treatments like reflexology and massage are subsidised, not free, but are also in high demand, says Dolliver.
Several companies are opting to install beer taps in the office, to entice workers in with a convivial, social offering.
"More frivolous perks have faded in this new world of work since the pandemic," says Patrick Isitt, content marketing executive at Kitt Offices, which 'personalises' offices around the UK, "but the ones rooted in bringing people together are becoming even more important."
"We most commonly hear of the taps being used during the end-of-week all-hands or company wrap-up meetings, with non-alcoholic beverages on offer too," he says.
Many of these businesses like to balance the beer-tap culture with dedicated quiet areas, like parent or prayer rooms, or...
Open plan offices can often be noisy, distracting places. Not great for when you want to concentrate and get on with some work.
One of the benefits of working from home is that you don't have shrill conversations in your ear - unless perhaps you have kids, and they get back home.
Many businesses are now requesting dedicated quiet spaces for their new offices, according to architects MoreySmith. These areas are often described as libraries to remind employees to keep silent there.
MoreySmith completed Sony Music's HQ in King's Cross, London last year. It has a performance space, as you might expect from a music label - but also a library for working in peace.
Has your employer offered you incentives to come back to the office building? You can get in touch with our business reporter Dougal Shaw.