Unusual work perks

October 16, 2013 admin

Unsurpassed for many decades, the existence of the coffee machine in the workplace has been one of the best and most inexpensive inventions businesses have ever seen because the unlimited caffeine fix has helped keep employees around the world more alert, productive, happy and at the office for longer periods of time in order to do even more work.

But tech innovations, competitiveness among businesses to retain talent and the sheer expense of living in high-rent areas are creating a unique environment that could shape a number of businesses in the years to come.

Facebook, for instance, is developing a $120 million, 394-unit rental housing community — Anton Menlo — near its Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters that will be open to anyone but that may seriously benefit some of its employees, especially those struggling to make ends meet and/or deal with lengthy commutes. Apart from being within walking distance from the Facebook campus of offices, amenities for the 630,000-square-foot Anton Menlo property will include:

  • Onsite cafe, convenience store, and sports pub
  • Bicycle repair shop with onsite storage
  • Pet spa with doggy daycare, pet walking services, dog park
  • Resort-inspired pool, spa and cabana area
  • Indoor/outdoor wellness, yoga and training facility with personal training
  • Rooftop entertainment deck with three-themed areas

In a video interview, Reed Albergotti, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, calls this move by Facebook the return of company housing or the company town, something atypical for Silicon Valley:

“Silicon Valley is the antithesis of the company town because the whole idea of it is that there is this melting pot of ideas, people from different companies switching companies, starting new companies, so this could be an effort by Facebook to pull some of those employees back and take advantage of those ideas changing hands — changing minds, if you will — but keep it internal so that Facebook itself can come up with the new innovations.”

As more and more firms globally shrink office space square footage per employee to save on rental costs, make better use of more communal work environments for exchanging ideas and even take advantage of short-term office space options, company towns could see a resurgence, particularly in the social media and high-tech space, in order to help firms maintain a competitive edge in increasingly expensive places to live and work.

So if your firm doesn’t yet have a communal sports pub or sleeping pods, one of Google’s top 10 perks, maybe it should. You never know when that next big idea might strike.

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Jennifer-Molloy91x119Jennifer Molloy is editor of The Institutional Real Estate Letter – Asia Pacific.


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