Is Ping Pong Over for Good? A Look at the Future of Tech Perks.

On-site perks didn’t translate well into the pandemic. What are the benefits of the future?

Written by Eva Roethler
Published on May. 21, 2021
Is Ping Pong Over for Good? A Look at the Future of Tech Perks.
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Tens of thousands of ping pong paddles collect dust. Kegs of cold brew wait to be tapped. Dust bunnies blow through communal spaces. In the distance, a pigeon coos. 

It’s a bleak picture. But while collaborative office design and complimentary snacks became table-stakes perks in tech, they didn't translate into the virtual workspace of 2020. To match employee benefits with the circumstances of reality, human resources leaders had to pivot hard and fast. 

Not surprisingly, perks and benefits packages emerged as one of the most important tools employers had to support their workers in 2020. These resources served as a lifeline through crisis-induced burnout and health concerns. As a result, employees are putting increased importance on benefits as part of their compensation considerations, and employers are responding. In The Future of Benefits, a 2021 Care.com report, 98 percent of HR leaders and executive decision-makers said they plan to expand their benefits, “investing more heavily in the benefits that their employees truly want and consider most essential.”

What does that mean in practice? The ping pong tables can probably stay, but the landscape is shifting. Built In checked in with local leaders to see how their company benefits have changed and what they may look like in the future. 

Beth Clutterbuck
Chief Human Resources Officer • Relativity

Relativity is a compliance and legal tech company. 

How have your company benefits changed over the last year of working remotely?

We continued to offer our previous employee benefits regarding healthcare, parental leave, unlimited discretionary time off, paid holidays and more. The climate we were in also created the unique opportunity to accelerate our remote working benefits, enhance existing benefits and launch a new wellness program. 

We found that remote work came with some needs for a home office setup. To help with this, we introduced a new furniture and IT allowance so employees could create the most comfortable environment possible when working from home. Enhancing existing benefits also added great value for employees — including increasing paid sick leave and company-wide holidays.  

Our wellness program could not have come at a better time. It focuses on five pillars of wellness: physical, mental, emotional, financial and purpose. A few things to highlight that came out of this are a premium subscription to the meditation app Headspace, virtual yoga classes and a 401k educational session with office hours.  

What's a benefit you had pre-COVID that you've doubled down on since going remote? 

While not a traditional benefit, our people have always been one of the main reasons Relativians join and stay at the company. This meant we needed to double down on building connections with one another while working remotely.  

Our community resource groups provide a place where employees can grow and learn from one another, whether as a member of each community or as an ally. Employees can also remain engaged by participating in fitness challenges, joining our new book club or participating in biweekly virtual game nights. Several opportunities have popped up this year and, even better, many were dreamt up by employees. 

We needed to double down on building connections with one another while working remotely.”

What's a new benefit you've added since the transition to remote work that you plan to keep after your team returns to the office, and why?

We plan to keep a hybrid work model moving forward that will allow employees to return to our offices when it is safe to do so, remain fully remote or choose a combination of both. We have been fortunate to remain a highly productive organization during this past year, and flexibility is important to our employees. It just made sense.

 

Sarah Britton
Senior Manager of Employee Operations • Lever

Lever creates applicant tracking and recruiting software. 

How have your company benefits changed over the last year of working remotely? 

We did a complete overhaul of our benefits and perks plan. We added ergonomic stipends, work-from-home equipment reimbursement, self-service IT equipment portals and internet reimbursement because many people did not have monitors or desks when we made the quick pivot to working remotely. 

To better understand each of our employees’ unique needs in the past year, we selected a randomized sample of people to hear about their various circumstances. From this, we added the reimbursement plans and, most importantly, a home setup reimbursement policy. This took into account the special circumstances of employees and what they were dealing with to be most effective while working from home — covering babysitters, dog walking, grocery delivery costs and more.  

What's a benefit you had pre-COVID that you've doubled down on since going remote? 

We doubled down on healthcare and mental health resources for our employees. Given most of our healthcare has gone virtual, telemedicine has become a big component of our program to ensure that in both the U.S. and Canada our employees had access to care. In regard to the mental health component of this — we made sure our employees had access to a stipend for therapy and counseling, classes for stress reduction, and mental fitness tools like Coa and the Headspace app.

To better understand each of our employees’ unique needs in the past year, we selected a randomized sample of people to hear about their various circumstances.”

What's a new benefit you've added since the transition to remote work that you plan to keep after your team returns to the office, and why? 

One of the new benefits we introduced was Carrot, a family planning benefit program with a lifetime reimbursement that we’ll continue to keep once we return to the office. We found in our listening tours that this was a highly requested benefit. Offering a tool to help employees achieve their goals of starting or growing a family, no matter where they are in their family-planning journey, is something important to support our employees.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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