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.

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