The landscape of work is changing significantly, and hybrid work is here to stay. This sets the stage for employees to expect a new range of benefits to support their work, and you can look for an employer which offers more, or you can demand more from your current organization. Since everything in life has changed—from the way you get groceries to the way you gather with friends and family—the value you get from your work should evolve as well.
You could argue hybrid work itself is a benefit, but more than a nice-to-have, it’s becoming table-stakes for employers who want to attract and retain workers—something which will drive people’s decisions about whether to join, stay, leave or engage. In fact, a new study from McKinsey found among those who took new jobs, the number one reason they joined an organization was because of workplace flexibility.
Within this new hybrid world of work then, companies must think in new and creative ways about the perks, benefits and resources they will provide to workers. These are elements you can demand with new fervor, and which organizations will increasingly need to offer.
Benefits for Hours of Work
As you’re assessing the right hybrid experience, consider benefits associated with the work itself. Companies are increasingly focused on wellbeing and they’re seeking to relieve the pressure that can come from days packed with back-to-back with meetings, video calls and never-ending tasks.
Suggest your company experiment with shorter meetings of 50 minutes each so people have breathing space between sessions. Or look for organizations which offer the opportunity to take Fridays off once a month, or to work half-days on Fridays or have company-wide no-meeting Fridays. Each of these have the advantage of giving people more space to pause and get deep work done without the melee of constant meetings. And they have the added advantage that if the pattern is shared company-wide, you’re not getting behind as the only person taking a Friday off.
Flexible work hours are another helpful option—the ability to start later if you have to take kids to school, or to knock off early for HIIT class and turn back on in the evening. Companies are also increasingly offering sabbaticals (paid or unpaid), unlimited vacation or self-care days where people can choose to have a day off if they really need additional respite, so look for these kinds of options—or recommend them.
Benefits for the Office
Another consideration are the benefits companies are offering within the office. Many organizations are realizing people don’t want to come back to seas of gray panels with maze-like work environments. Smart companies are making the commute worth it by creating places you want to come back to in the first place. Social hubs, great work cafes where people can get (free, healthy) food and work side-by-side with the community are examples. You can recommend your company offer these as well.
In addition, companies are realizing people need better places to collaborate and socialize, but also places for privacy—especially for employees who don’t have an ideal at-home setting for distraction-free work. The ability to shut a door, even if you’re not a senior manager can truly be a benefit—and you can ask for this as organizations look to update their offices. Employers are also offering places for rejuvenation, providing napping pods and adding natural elements to the space.
The process is also important here. The best companies are offering support for employees who are figuring out how to work in new ways—sponsoring team discussions where colleagues talk about their new norms for collaborating and working individually. No one wants to come to the office to sit on video calls all day—so a benefit you can demand is to have the orientation, support and practices which guide new processes for working together.
Look for companies which are offering stipends to outfit home offices with desks, ergonomic seating, better lighting or upgraded technology. Or recommend your organization be creative about transportation to and from work—whether on a Wi-Fi-enabled shuttle or by offering stipends for parking costs. As an example, Google is offering subscriptions to scooter services to get employees to the office or the nearest bus stop. Employers are realizing the workplace extends beyond the office—and they are making investments in the whole experience—something you can seek from your employer as well.
Benefits for Your Life
Work is part of a full life, and research demonstrates when people are happier with their lives outside of work, they tend to be happier within their jobs as well. Wise companies are recognizing employees as whole people—and expanding the company’s role in providing for fulfillment in all parts of employees’ lives. So this is a key criterion you can consider when you’re assessing your organization or a potential new one.
Look for companies which are offering resources for teaching and tutoring when parents have children learning from home, or catching up on school based on where they may have fallen behind. Also look for companies offering stipends for childcare and apps for elder care or emergency childcare services. Many companies are also offering pet care options, pet insurance or opportunities to take pets to work—acknowledging the extent to which furry friends are part of the family.
Wellness benefits have expanded, and you can look for an organization or recommend your current organization provide for apps which support meditation, sleep, healthy eating, exercise, online mental health therapy and telehealth. Or suggest your organization offer stipends for exercise equipment or classes. Education is part of this as well, with organizations who are offering mindfulness training or financial skills training.
More important than the perks themselves, is that companies are appreciating employees more holistically and embracing wellbeing as a part of the experience they’re creating, so look for organizations who demonstrate they value you as a whole person.
Benefits for Community
Another set of benefits you can increasingly demand has to do with creating community. Employers recognize working at a distance can introduce challenges for employees to connect and feel part of things. Some are offering perks like employee resource groups or affiliation groups for everyone from caregivers and runners to knitters or motorcycle enthusiasts.
You can also look for companies which are embracing apps like which help people find friends and create new relationships with colleagues. Or make requests of your organization to organize in-office events like pet shelter adoption events, BBQs or company activity fairs—or events outside of work like volunteer days or meet-and-greets.
Also Consider the Culture
Overall, organizations are offering a range of work options. The majority are moving to a three-two model where they expect people to be in the office three days and they will provide the option for employees to work wherever they’d like the other two days of the week. In fact, a new study from Stanford found options for hybrid working lowered employee quit rates by 35%—so you can take this to your employer if they’re not already offering this approach.
But one caution: As you’re choosing a company (or recommitting to one), be sure hybrid options for where and when you work are accompanied by a culture in which you have true choice and autonomy. If the company is offering hybrid work, but you still feel you have to come in every day in order to gain respect or advance your career, the culture has not truly aligned to a hybrid model. Or if leaders lack the skills to engage teams from a distance (and there’s no development to get them there), the culture may not be the best option.
Look for cultures which provide strong direction balanced with the opportunity to participate and influence, and cultures which offer clear responsibilities and policies balanced with adaptability and responsiveness. Seek cultures which manage based on performance, rather than simply presence—and which emphasize accountability along with recognition and celebration. Also look for cultures where you feel a fit and where you’re energized to share in mutual goals. These will be the hybrid work experiences which will serve you best—and keep you motivated to engage from wherever you’re working.
While the media can introduce a false contradiction—setting up a debate between whether work from home or work in the office is better—in truth, hybrid is a both-and proposition. When it works, hybrid is the best of both worlds.
Ideally, hybrid allows work from anywhere with plenty of choice and flexibility for employees. But it should also offer a strong center of gravity from an organization—a culture you want to be a part of with interesting work and supportive colleagues.
A New Day
If the last two years have taught us anything, surely it is the importance of work experiences. It’s a new day, and you can demand more from your current company or a new company as they seek to attract, retain and engage you.
Prioritize what’s most important to you and demand more from your employer—or appreciate the expanded perks they are already providing. It’s a new day to enjoy work and find fulfillment in all things work-life—and the expanded benefits, incentives and perks from employers are a great place to start.