Common Workplace Amenities, Ranked
Gone are the days of the cookie-cutter office. People have gotten savvy to the fact that work should consist of more than a clinical-feeling cubicle with no pleasurable amenities anywhere.
In fact, in many industries, they’ve figured out that workers become more productive (and more willing to spend longer hours at work) if a few comforts are provided. Plus, in an environment where people no longer stay at companies their entire career, adding some nice amenities can mean retaining employees for longer periods of time.
But not all workplace pleasures are created equal. Employers everywhere have upped their game when it comes to providing sweet offerings. And while it’s always nice to have a little something extra, some nicities are definitely better than others.
So here’s a list of 15 of the most common workplace amenities. These are ranked based on their daily usefulness, possible drawbacks, the creativity involved in coming up with or sustaining the amenity, and the overall pleasure generated from the offering. Your preferences or rankings may be very different. I tried to take general preferences into account, but mostly went by how much they’d please me. Enjoy!
And if you’re lucky enough to have any of these amenities in your office, really enjoy!
15. Casual Friday
Who doesn’t love the opportunity to wear jeans, especially in an environment where you’re constantly expected to look nice? Casual Friday is a workplace staple. It allows people to relax a bit and show a little more personality in their clothing.
The biggest reason this isn’t even higher on the list is that it’s almost become so commonplace that it’s an expectation rather than a delightful (or rare) luxury. And many more progressive and modern workplaces don’t tend to enforce a strict dress codes anymore, anyway.
So if Casual Friday is your only amenity, it’s a fun one. But for many people, it’s an everyday occurrence that doesn’t affect how they work or how they feel about their work.
14. Free Snacks
It’s one of the nicer things an office can offer. It’s also one of the most basic.
Making sure cheap snacks are available is certainly helpful for employees who get hangry or distracted when they need something quick and easy.
But it’s also a bit of a double-edged sword, since the snacks offered are often some of the most basic snacks you can get at a local Costco. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But not having a say in the types of snacks you want to nosh on can get tiresome.
Or, the opposite can happen and you get into a habit of snacking on the free items whenever you’re chatting it up with a coworker on a break, and accidentally pack on some unwanted pounds. So while they’re nice if you’re in a bind, handfuls of easy, cheap snacks can wreak havoc on a diet and, occasionally, your health habits.
13. Alcohol on Tap
It’s not unheard of these days for an office to have a keg or two. Or to have some bottles of whiskey or wine in case you want to feel buzzed before or after a long meeting. It is pretty delightful to have access to a little casual midday or post-work drink that you don’t have to pay for. But alcohol on tap comes with some unwanted side effects.
I know I can get little sleepy when coming down from a buzz, and I’m sure I’m not alone. So even though that midday beer or wine was fun to have during lunch, it may affect your post-meal productivity. Plus, there’s inevitable judgment from your coworkers if you’re the one who wants to grab a little drink every day.
Most of the time, though, it’s a fun selling point for the company, something that’s only utilized occasionally and that the average worker forgets about.
12. Nap Pods (or a Nap Room)
Research suggests a midday power nap can be helpful for resetting your brain and making the rest of the day productive, especially for people who wake up extra early to workout, to help their children get ready for school, or to work on some other outside-work goal.
But not everybody has the same reaction to getting some shut-eye.
For some people, there’s a grogginess that comes along with getting any amount of sleep that can make the rest of the day difficult. And, realistically, there aren’t a ton of places that are offering nap areas — yet. Plus, American culture rewards working through the sleepiness and never taking too much time to rest (unlike other places around the world, which have different attitudes about naps). I know I’m the type that likes to wake up early and thrive with a quick midday shut-eye, but I know plenty of people whose brains don’t work the same way.
So as good of an idea as this might be, it’s not something for everyone.
11. Sponsored Happy Hours
Whenever the company pays for something, it’s a very nice gesture. And sponsored happy hours can certainly promote bonding among coworkers and create shared playful memories. (Assuming, of course, you don’t end up with too much of a hangover.)
The biggest drawback: It’s likely something that only happens once in a while, unlike other offerings that happen more regularly. And it depends on you having an interest in or ability to drink alcohol with others. Though they can still be fun, being the sober one at a sponsored work happy hour is a very different experience than sharing a couple beers and letting loose.
Plus, there’s always the possibility that you might enjoy the happy hour a little too much and will say or do something that will make that next day at work awkward, or worse.
10. Desk Upgrades
Many companies and offices offer the ability to transform your normal sitting desk into something more active or healthy, like a standing desk or even a treadmill walking desk. And many places don’t make you choose between a standing or sitting desk; they often make it so you can switch between the two as your heart desires.
Many places, too, offer ergonomic keyboard accessories so you can avoid carpal tunnel, or just tired wrists and hands after a long day of typing. Even if you rarely use the desk, it’s nice to know you have the chance to change it up and get a fresh perspective on your work.
9. Fitness Competitions
Let’s face it: Sometimes you need a little extra motivation to get yourself in shape. When companies offer periodic fitness competitions between branches or arbitrary teams they create, it can be really helpful to get you moving – even it just a little.
Some companies offer gym memberships and bonuses for people who take the most advantage of them. Other companies encourage workers (or even offer discounts) on Fitbits or other fitness trackers, and then sponsor competitions to see what group gets in the most steps.
While the groups with people training for marathons might have an unfair advantage, there’s a good chance that even the remote possibility of winning something free for simply working out will get you moving.
The only drawback of this offering: Of course, you have to work out to enjoy it, which isn’t something everyone loves to do.
8. Remote Work Capabilities
What’s better than creating a work environment where people want to hang out all the time? Creating a work environment where they don’t have to hang out all the time, of course.
The ability to work from home or elsewhere has transformed the more traditional expectations of the 40-hour workweek. The ability for people to be able to work from home or a coffee shop means people can be much more on demand than they were in the past.
That’s sort of a drawback if you’re hoping to unplug from your job for a while. But overall, it’s a major bonus. It means that you have more flexibility to balance work and your life outside of work.
Many offices offer board or video games for their employees. This is especially helpful if you need to take a little breather from a major problem. Plus, it’s a great way to bond and hang out with your coworkers without only talking about work.
The only drawback: If you’re too competitive, maybe you’ll take these games a little too seriously. I certainly don’t like to lose, and am not sure I would have that many coworkers who continued to be friends with me if I played at the level I’m used to playing at. You could also become too interested playing them and accidentally find yourself having spent much more time playing than you meant to. Then you’ll be spending another late night at the office.
But assuming you use them periodically just for relaxation and fun like they’re intended, they’re an awesome addition to any office environment.
For those of you wondering, yes, this is a real thing some offices provide. In fact, there’s a whole portion of the massage industry dedicated to it.
A common way offices offer this to their employees: They hire someone (or a group of people, depending on the size of the office) to spend small chunks of time tending to groups of workers. A few luxurious offices may have someone who stays on site every day.
Unlike a regular massage, you’re obviously not getting the quiet, spa-like experience. But it’s still a massage. And massages feel really good, help quiet your mind, and relax your body. So the rest of the day you’re not only in a better mood, but you likely feel a whole lot better and will be more productive.
There’s nothing like getting some physical kinks out to help your mental flow the rest of the day.
Some companies offer discounts, gym memberships, or access to exclusive, employees-only gym facilities. And that is absolutely awesome.
No matter how state-of-the-art or basic your gym is, you can make the most of it and start your journey of self improvement. Even if you only use the gym occasionally, every little workout helps you to be and stay healthy.
Or, at least, you can have an inspiring place to post selfies from and up your social media game. #fitfam #gymlife #gymrat
4. Bring Your Dog to Work
Allowing your employees to bring their furry friends to work? Yes. It can make the whole environment way more playful. What’s better than a bunch of excited furry “employees” whose only job is to make everyone around them feel special? It’s a job they do well and take very seriously.
Plus, they tend to need to go for walks throughout the day and require a little midday playtime, which means employees get a few more breaks. While this might feel counterproductive, getting some fresh air and a little bit of exercise can actually be really great for overall productivity.
Plus, you can get slobbery (but actually enjoyable) face licks for a job well done. It’s hard to say no to that.
Of course, some people have allergies. But maybe they can just work from home one day per week, or take extra Allegra to more comfortably share the space with some floppy-eared friends.
3. Cold Brew Coffee on Tap
Maybe not everyone loves coffee at the level I do, but I know I need it daily to function properly. And, based on overall coffee sales and growth in United States alone, I don’t seem to be the only coffee lover out there.
Some offices offer cold brew coffee on tap for their employees. And it’s unsurprisingly extremely popular. Even if you like to grab a cup before work, you can always enjoy a little midday coffee break to get over any afternoon brain fogginess.
Plus, unlike the beer on tap, it won’t make you sleepy after indulging and there’s no societal judgment about the amount you drink from your coworkers. Assuming, of course, you stay reasonable about it.
Even the biggest coffee lovers need limits.
2. Free Food Friday (or Every Day)
A growing number of offices offer free lunch every Friday for their employees. And at tech companies, you can expect free food at any hour of the day. Unlike having the same snacks available every day, offering a rotating lunch is one of the most fun things an office can do. Plus, it’s really helpful for people who are on a budget.
Again, it’s a great chance to get employees mingling, and an awesome way to show gratitude for their work. For employees stuck in a rut in terms of what they eat or bring for lunch every day, it’s a great chance to try a little culinary diversity.
And, if you’re really savvy, you can take any leftovers from lunch home to your significant other who has spend the day writing and has accidentally forgotten to eat and will be really grateful to have some sustenance that isn’t toast.
1. Special Events
I’m talking about events that go above and beyond when it comes to creating bonds between workers and making an office feel family friendly.
For example, there’s almost nothing better than a company that offers a kick-butt holiday party. Even if it’s not super decadent, simply taking the time and energy to plan a chance for employees to unwind, bring their families or a date, and reap the benefits of a year where they worked really hard means a lot to people. And, like other high-ranked amenities on this list, it can be enjoyed by your friends and family, which makes it even more enjoyable.
Bonus points if your employer offers free or discounted rideshare codes so you can rest easy that you can enjoy the evening safely.
Additionally, many offices offer summer celebrations like field days where you’re teamed up with people from different departments, and you all engage in friendly competition. It’s excellent for getting to know people who work at your company that you might not otherwise interact with, and it’s also a really great way to break up any mid-summer blues with some outdoor activity and exercise.
Even just having a couple food trucks stop by with some free food offerings and inviting your employees family (and pets) is an awesome way to get people to feel appreciated for their efforts. Plus, this amenity isn’t just helpful for you – it’s something your loved ones can also enjoy.