July 21st, 2021

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In pre-pandemic days, when people came to the office they got to enjoy things like happy hours, massages, ice cream runs, free breakfasts, catered lunches, on-site gyms, nap rooms, and the list goes on. The workplace used to have a lot to offer employees — from high-end coffee and healthy snack bars to trendy lounge areas and arcade-style game rooms.

With a huge chunk of the workforce considering a job change after the pandemic, it's time for leaders to rethink how they attract and hang on to their high-performing workers. 

This two-part series will cover the most important things employers need to know about the new and improved employee and workplace benefits people want to see in the post-pandemic era.

Here in part one, we're breaking down the top workplace benefits employers should offer their employees.

Why it's time to rethink workplace benefits after COVID-19

The workplace has changed pretty drastically over the past year and a half, so it's time to rethink the workplace benefits employers offer their workforce.

For most employees, a great employee experience has more to do with being empowered, enabled, and having trust than with having bean bag chairs and pool tables. One recent study found that only 16% of employees thought having what they considered a "cool" office space — which included having perks like food and games — was a priority.

Considering the fact that people have been working remotely for an extended period of time, it makes sense that employees weren't thinking much about workplace benefits until recently.

However, people still see the value in face-to-face collaboration and office-based workdays.

In fact, many employees would prefer a hybrid working arrangement that allows them to split their time between working in the office and working from home. And when they do return to the office, you can bet that they will expect some perks.

10 workplace benefits to offer employees in the post-pandemic era

Here's what we've learned over the course of the pandemic: Structure and routine are out, variety and freedom are in. People don't want to waste their time having mundane experiences, attending lackluster meetings, avoiding distraction and noise, or spending an extra 1-2 hours every day on their commute.

Even though most people agree there are benefits to being physically present, you'll have a difficult time getting anyone there if the hassle of coming into the office outweighs the value.

To really attract the best employees to your company, consider offering these 10 employee and workplace benefits:

  1. Flexible working options
  2. State-of-the-art technology
  3. Greater sense of autonomy
  4. Comfortable workspace
  5. Meaningful workplace experiences
  6. Well-being and mental health resources
  7. Professional development and education
  8. Gifts, bonuses, and incentives
  9. Financial resources and planning
  10. Better work-life balance

We've broken these perks into two parts: workplace benefits and employee perks.  In this first part of the two-part series, we're diving into the workplace benefits employers should offer their employees in the new era of work.

5 workplace benefits to offer employees after COVID-19

1. Flexible schedules and hybrid working options

While workplace perks used to be offered entirely around being physically present in the office, the new set of workplace benefits will focus more on the employee experience as a whole. That's important today because hybrid and flexible working arrangements are quickly becoming the norm in companies around the world.

But it's more than just telecommuting, working remotely, or having a hybrid working arrangement. People appreciate having the ability to shift between work and other responsibilities. They may spend their morning attending meetings and checking their inbox and then spend time on a hobby or eat lunch with their significant other.

In the future, flexible scheduling might manifest itself as hot-desking in the office on Monday and Wednesday morning, being office-based all day on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and working remotely on Friday. Striking the right balance between office-based and WFH methods is no easy task. On the contrary, it can be quite cumbersome.

Desk Booking Software

Since the workforce has worked off-site since early 2020, they've learned to appreciate the freedom that comes along with work-from-home (WFH) capabilities. Rather than feeling forced to commute to the office to work from 9-5 every day, being able to use hot-desking tools to choose when to work remotely and when being on-site makes more sense aligns with their desire for more agency.

2. State-of-the-art technology

While many factors contribute to a great workplace experience, technology is probably the most significant one. Over the course of the pandemic, more technology investments have been made to keep business operations afloat and prepare for the eventual return to the office.

This is the dawn of a new era for technology in the workplace. Regardless of company size, industry, or location, there are some common concerns surfacing around modernizing the way we work. It has led to a whole host of current and upcoming challenges for leaders in IT, HR, FM, and WX.

Many workplaces make the mistake of going overboard with workplace technology to modernize the employee experience, resulting in a complex jumble of disconnected systems and apps. 

Instead, focus on making the experience of working in the office as meaningful and productive as possible. By investing in new technologies that integrate easily with employee’s calendars, email, messaging, and other work tools, you can help tame the tech stack without disrupting people’s lives.

Connect your hot desk app and conference room apps with occupancy sensors, HR systems, and other tools to make your technology more functional, and its use more powerful.

3. Greater sense of autonomy and agency

Turns out a bad morning commute isn’t just stressful — it actually can impair an employee’s ability to immerse themselves in their work, reducing their engagement and work performance, according to one recent study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Fortunately, the same study showed that employees with a greater sense of autonomy and efficacy can reduce the negative impact that an aversive commute has on employee engagement.

One way to incorporate this workplace benefit into the office is by implementing a mobile employee experience app that connects your employees to your hot-desking tools.

For employees looking to book a desk and get going on an individual assignment, the experience should be seamless. Flexibility can make it difficult to organize their schedules, so it's important to choose space booking tools that give employees the ability to check availability from home so they can plan their day in advance.

The best hot desk booking software will already have this functionality built-in, so employees can accomplish this remotely. Or, if they need to grab an available desk at a moment’s notice, they can use a hot desk app to book ad hoc as well.

4. High-quality environments and comfortable space

After months of working from the comfort of their homes — often in less formal attire what they'd wear in the office — comfort is becoming a top workplace benefit.

Don't overlook the impact of the physical environment on productivity, employee engagement, decision-making, and collaboration. Your workplace sets the foundation for company culture and performance, and it can make or break the workplace experience.

Comfortable workplaces are equipped with breakrooms, ergonomic furniture, natural lighting, and plenty of space. If you haven't already, it might also be time to consider a casual dress code.

Another thing to consider: How you handle the return to the office. If people don't see their employers taking the appropriate health and safety measures — including physical distancing, managing office capacity, implementing wellness checks, etc. — they might not feel comfortable returning to the office.

5. More meaningful workplace experiences

In the workplace, we benefit from having a mix of experiences, interactions, and work environments. It’s a dynamic environment with variety and excitement. Of course, we can’t overlook the importance of having the option to work remotely.

Remote work can improve an employee’s workday considerably, and that brings along other benefits such as increased job satisfaction, higher retention rates, and better performance. The key challenge to improving employee productivity is finding the right balance between deeply focused individual work and high-quality collaborative teamwork.

If employees are coming in for socialization, reserving space for meetings should be a quick, painless process. It should be simple to find the right space for their specific purpose. With a conference room app, connection is just clicks away. 

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Whether it's a small meeting space for private conversations, medium-capacity areas for mid-size meetings, or rooms for their larger gatherings — a conference room app helps employees find the perfect place for their needs.

In Part 2, we'll cover the top employee benefits to offer after COVID-19

Nothing stands in the way of business success quite like an unhappy, disengaged employee. They don't perform as well, contribute as much, or feel as connected to the organization. Not to mention they cost U.S. businesses up to $550B a year, according to a report by The Engagement Institute.

Beyond preserving pandemic-era flexibility and digital advancements after offices reopen, employers must also step up their employee and workplace benefits. To achieve that, focus on what truly motivates people today and remember to keep things in context.

For instance, offering employees the ability to bring their dogs to work may seem less important if you plan to allow employees to work from home for part of the workweek. But when you factor in concerns about separation anxiety and the rising cost of pet care, this workplace benefit might actually win people over.

As a matter of fact, in the latest Petco survey, 44% of pet owners said they want employers to adopt a pet-friendly office. What's more surprising is that 41% of pet owners would pick their pets over their jobs.

Don't miss Post-Pandemic Perks Part 2, where we'll cover the new and improved employee perks employers should offer their employees after COVID-19, including:

  • Well-being and mental health resources
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Gifts, bonuses, and incentives
  • Financial planning and resources
  • Better work-life balance

 

You may also be interested in the latest episode of Workplace Innovator, Returning to Offices and Managing the Future Workplace while "Living a Rich and Intentional Life". Check it out.

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