Coming under fire for perks they’d hoped would be received well, law firm Kirkland & Ellis, are the most recent victims of misjudged benefits. Offering their 300 lawyers free around the clock personal assistants, to help with every aspect of their lives, they’ve been criticized for ‘chaining employees to their desks’.
These types of benefits, in which a workplace attempts to implement personal upkeep into the workday have recently fallen from grace and been placed under scrutiny from experts. Services such as on-site medical, dinner in the office, and assistants who’ll do anything from sourcing presents to organizing holidays are now being seen as a way to prolong the workday and take away from personal lives.
Whilst they were originally the brainchild of Silicon Valley, they are now creeping into offices all over the globe and being abandoned by the very companies that started the trend. Reports of Google employees staying in the office for months on end were met with shock and questions of whether perks like sleep pods and free meals were encouraging people to focus solely on work.
The repercussions don’t have to be quite so severe in order to affect our health however, as already more than 40% of young workers think that putting in long hours is the best way to win favour with management, and we are already spending more time at our workstations (6.8 hours) than in bed (6.4 hours), relaxing at home (3.5 hours) or outdoors (just 37 minutes). Implementing schemes that take away excuses to leave the office can only make this worse.
When asked for their biggest frustration at work, 57% of employees responded that it was a lack of fresh air, which isn’t surprising considering office workers consistently fall below guidelines, with 40% spending just 15 minutes outside. For reference that is a whole 45 minutes less than the minimum set for prisoners by the UN.
This excessive sitting can impact the body’s metabolism, how we regulate sugar, our blood pressure and how we break down fat. It’s important then that when companies are looking at how to improve their employees experience, they question whether that in-office barber is a gimmick that will go from freeing in the short term to restricting in the long term.