Workplace

If they must come back, tech workers want drinks on tap

A recent Protocol survey found tech workers are most looking forward to free food and drinks when they return to the office.

​Facebook employees walking by the Biryani Indian restaurant on their Menlo Park campus.

Returning tech workers are interested in office perks.

Photo: Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tech workers aren't rushing back to the office, but when they do, they are expecting some basic perks to come with it.

According to Protocol's recent survey of tech workers, in partnership with Morning Consult, the top two perks that people want to see when they return to the office are free food and complimentary drinks.

"I can tell you anecdotally many of our employees, including myself, do miss the culinary programs on campus," said Tracy Clayton, a communications employee at Facebook.

The perks listed in the survey ranged from in-office massages to yoga and exercise classes. Of the tech workers that participated in the survey, 60% want free food and snacks and 53% want drinks like coffee and beer on tap. Both perks were once common in tech offices around the country. Now, the perks are slowly returning as companies gauge new COVID-19 protocols and the muted demand from employees to return to the office.

Facebook has been known to offer employees an abundance of free food throughout its many offices, and other perks like an arcade in its Menlo Park headquarters. The company spokesperson said they are hoping to bring back many of the amenities employees have come to love.

While enterprise software company SAP is enticing its employees back with free food and coffee on tap, it also reopened its on-site gym and locker room this week with new safety measures, including a limit on the number of people allowed in the facilities. Two perks that have been slow to return are shuttles and commuter benefits. They will remain on pause based on low employee demand.

"I think our biggest perk is that employees can keep working from home through the end of the year," said a spokesperson at SAP. Employees are not required to return to the office at this time, and the software company is not specifying a certain number of days that workers must come into the office in 2022. It will be based on a person's team and manager. What was once an exception — remote work — will be completely embraced and expected, according to SAP.

Amazon is currently focusing more on its benefits for its employees rather than office perks; however, its famous Community Banana Stand is still in action at its Washington headquarters and Arlington office.

Airbnb, also known for its plethora of office perks, is following suit with the current perk of more flexible work. The vacation rental company has shared with its corporate employees that they will not be required to return to the office until September 2022.

In the past, Airbnb's San Francisco headquarters offered free food and, according to employees, kombucha on tap.

"We're going to allow a lot of flexibility. And even when we do ask people to come back, they're going to have a lot more flexibility than before. People aren't going to be expected to come back to the office five days a week, every week," said Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky in its recent first-quarter earnings call.

Enterprise

Why foundation models in AI need to be released responsibly

Foundation models like GPT-3 and DALL-E are changing AI forever. We urgently need to develop community norms that guarantee research access and help guide the future of AI responsibly.

Releasing new foundation models doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition.

Illustration: sorbetto/DigitalVision Vectors

Percy Liang is director of the Center for Research on Foundation Models, a faculty affiliate at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI and an associate professor of Computer Science at Stanford University.

Humans are not very good at forecasting the future, especially when it comes to technology.

Keep Reading Show less
Percy Liang
Percy Liang is Director of the Center for Research on Foundation Models, a Faculty Affiliate at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI, and an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University.

Every day, millions of us press the “order” button on our favorite coffee store's mobile application: Our chosen brew will be on the counter when we arrive. It’s a personalized, seamless experience that we have all come to expect. What we don’t know is what’s happening behind the scenes. The mobile application is sourcing data from a database that stores information about each customer and what their favorite coffee drinks are. It is also leveraging event-streaming data in real time to ensure the ingredients for your personal coffee are in supply at your local store.

Applications like this power our daily lives, and if they can’t access massive amounts of data stored in a database as well as stream data “in motion” instantaneously, you — and millions of customers — won’t have these in-the-moment experiences.

Keep Reading Show less
Jennifer Goforth Gregory
Jennifer Goforth Gregory has worked in the B2B technology industry for over 20 years. As a freelance writer she writes for top technology brands, including IBM, HPE, Adobe, AT&T, Verizon, Epson, Oracle, Intel and Square. She specializes in a wide range of technology, such as AI, IoT, cloud, cybersecurity, and CX. Jennifer also wrote a bestselling book The Freelance Content Marketing Writer to help other writers launch a high earning freelance business.
Climate

The West’s drought could bring about a data center reckoning

When it comes to water use, data centers are the tech industry’s secret water hogs — and they could soon come under increased scrutiny.

Lake Mead, North America's largest artificial reservoir, has dropped to about 1,052 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since being filled in 1937.

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The West is parched, and getting more so by the day. Lake Mead — the country’s largest reservoir — is nearing “dead pool” levels, meaning it may soon be too low to flow downstream. The entirety of the Four Corners plus California is mired in megadrought.

Amid this desiccation, hundreds of the country’s data centers use vast amounts of water to hum along. Dozens cluster around major metro centers, including those with mandatory or voluntary water restrictions in place to curtail residential and agricultural use.

Keep Reading Show less
Lisa Martine Jenkins

Lisa Martine Jenkins is a senior reporter at Protocol covering climate. Lisa previously wrote for Morning Consult, Chemical Watch and the Associated Press. Lisa is currently based in Brooklyn, and is originally from the Bay Area. Find her on Twitter ( @l_m_j_) or reach out via email (ljenkins@protocol.com).

Workplace

Indeed is hiring 4,000 workers despite industry layoffs

Indeed’s new CPO, Priscilla Koranteng, spoke to Protocol about her first 100 days in the role and the changing nature of HR.

"[Y]ou are serving the people. And everything that's happening around us in the world is … impacting their professional lives."

Image: Protocol

Priscilla Koranteng's plans are ambitious. Koranteng, who was appointed chief people officer of Indeed in June, has already enhanced the company’s abortion travel policies and reinforced its goal to hire 4,000 people in 2022.

She’s joined the HR tech company in a time when many other tech companies are enacting layoffs and cutbacks, but said she sees this precarious time as an opportunity for growth companies to really get ahead. Koranteng, who comes from an HR and diversity VP role at Kellogg, is working on embedding her hybrid set of expertise in her new role at Indeed.

Keep Reading Show less
Amber Burton

Amber Burton (@amberbburton) is a reporter at Protocol. Previously, she covered personal finance and diversity in business at The Wall Street Journal. She earned an M.S. in Strategic Communications from Columbia University and B.A. in English and Journalism from Wake Forest University. She lives in North Carolina.

Climate

New Jersey could become an ocean energy hub

A first-in-the-nation bill would support wave and tidal energy as a way to meet the Garden State's climate goals.

Technological challenges mean wave and tidal power remain generally more expensive than their other renewable counterparts. But government support could help spur more innovation that brings down cost.

Photo: Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash

Move over, solar and wind. There’s a new kid on the renewable energy block: waves and tides.

Harnessing the ocean’s power is still in its early stages, but the industry is poised for a big legislative boost, with the potential for real investment down the line.

Keep Reading Show less
Lisa Martine Jenkins

Lisa Martine Jenkins is a senior reporter at Protocol covering climate. Lisa previously wrote for Morning Consult, Chemical Watch and the Associated Press. Lisa is currently based in Brooklyn, and is originally from the Bay Area. Find her on Twitter ( @l_m_j_) or reach out via email (ljenkins@protocol.com).

Latest Stories
Bulletins