Office perks can be great for team spirit. Providing a space for office workers to socialise helps staff get to know each other and helps teams bond together.
But they should never, ever be a replacement for tools that actively help your employees do their jobs more effectively. Fundamentally, that’s one of the main office perks any of us ever want.
What would you say if you were offered the choice between office dart board or the removal of a piece of cumbersome admin from your to-do list? I know which I’d choose.
The research is unanimous; 86 per cent of UK adults who work in an office said that fun features were of no specific value to their working life. At their worst, they’re essentially a very expensive waste of time and space.
It’s time to treat our employees like adults. Yes, office perks are important but the real benefits come from slick and efficient technology that improves worker productivity and engagement. 79 per cent of office workers say they want reliable and modern technology – not endless perks.
Here’s how you get the balance right.
Quick and effective solutions
Communication is the bug bear of any fast-paced working environments. Being able to effectively communicate with customers to solve problems, or with colleagues to collaborate, can be the difference between success and failure. That’s why instant feedback platforms are increasingly essential.
Slack is the most dramatic example of how productivity tools can become office perks. Its slick, easy to use interface means that teams can brainstorm together, collaborating on different channels and projects. Its success is such that it is increasingly mentioned in job adverts as an office benefit.
There’s no reason why the success of chat tools internally can’t be replicated with customers. Everyone hates waiting in call queues, and employees hate having to deal with increasingly irate customers. Whilst platforms like Zendesk, Freshdesk and Zoho that have been on the market for a while have aimed to solve this problem, they use an email ticketing system which still means customers have to wait for hours or even days.
This is why real-time chat platforms such as Intercom that allow quick and direct communication with customers are such a revelation. If a customer has an issue, they can reach out to you immediately so that you can get working on the problem straight off the bat. It means that customer service teams feel in control and able to deal with pressing issues instantly.
Stay in sync
Whether an organisation is large or small, it’s vital that everyone knows exactly what’s going on at all times. It’s all too easy to get lost in your own work forgetting to catch up with the rest of your colleagues, particularly when they are dispersed around the globe or work from remote locations.
At Xpenditure we hold a weekly cross-team knowledge sharing sessions via video conference. Workers based in all different regions come together as if everyone were in the same room and everyone gets to give their input on changes and ongoing projects. It’s a basic tactic, but one I have found rarely practised in multi-national organisations. It’s amazing how useful even a 15 minute check in can become.
But if the concept of a regular meeting feels like too much admin, teams can also stay synchronised through online tools like Trello, invaluable to make sure nobody steps on anyone else’s toes.
It’s unacceptable that in the hustle and bustle of daily working life, employees are still spending time on dusty processes such as expenses reports and paper filing. These add no value to an organisation and waste time that could be spent on doing what they’re actually paid for.
Entering one expense into a report via Excel, for example takes 20 minutes – 15 minutes longer than a swift update via expense management technology, according to GBTA research. Those 15 minutes end up adding up.
Cloud platforms that manage expenses reinvent these outdated and time-wasting activities. This saves swathes of time and allows employees to focus on more productive tasks.
Cheap and cheerful
How much does all of this cost? I hear you cry. But don’t worry – many useful tools are completely free. Making life better for your employees doesn’t have to break the bank.
You don’t have to budget for tools like Skype and Slack – just download and you’re off – their free plans are already great. And one-stop shops like the App Store on iOS and the Google Chrome Web store are perfect places to search for software so you can get the most bang for your buck.
It’s crucial that in the rush to install table football tables and games machines, we don’t forget about the perks employees really want: tools to make their job easier.
Boris Bogaert is CEO and co-founder of Xpenditure.