Perks of the job

Ask not what you can do for your office but what your office can do to ensure you turn up five days a week.

Penelope WhitsonI like a bit of an office perk, I do. No, not the nipples of either sex displayed prominently through a shirt that’s too thin on a cold day. Free stuff. Not stuff you’ve ‘borrowed’, either. Stuff openly given to you in order to keep you happy in the workplace.

The sort of gratis goods I’m talking about do not include colds and flu, which seem to be up for grabs all year round. I’m thinking things like the flu shot. We got it in 2010. And I was flu and cold free all winter, despite dancing outside at night wearing only my underwear and a tiara. So I got the shot again in 2011. And was promptly fairly sick all June and July. A sniffle monster of the first degree. No more dancing in the cold wearing only my scanties.

This year I didn’t get the shot and I have the medical condition commonly referred to as a ‘scratchy tickly throat that keeps you up at night and annoys your flatmates’. I can’t decide if the flu shot is worth it or not.

But it is free. And I do tend to follow the ‘good, bad free’ mantra.

Previous offices have provided fruit (people get mean over how the bananas are distributed) and the newspaper, which is always good if your workplace is the kind that gets competitive about the Dom Post 5-minute quiz. Then there are the places that insist all employees receive a birthday cake, and a great many companies provide staff with wine, actual proper wine in bottles, on Fridays.

Perks I have had lorded over me by others include having the day off on your birthday, ping pong tables in the office, flexible working hours, casual attire and a family friendly atmosphere. I’m not too sure what that last one involves, being a childless spinster, but I’m guessing you’re not made to work in the basement if your family drops by for a hug.

These aren’t necessarily big things but they’re appealing because sometimes work itself doesn’t rate so high on the fun scale but is bearable due to what else is on offer. I worked in one office where we weren’t trusted with a toaster because it was a fire hazard. Needless to say, we were not impressed. Nothing makes for subversive employees like the feeling your organisation thinks you’re stupid.

Sadly, if you work from home, then the office perk doesn’t exist. Or, it’s a bit different. It might involve not having to bathe much. Or holding lengthy conversations with your cat on the virtues of Nutella eaten out of the jar.

Does your workplace provide employees with ‘stuff’?  And what kind of stuff is it? Is it particularly shiny and would it keep you from working somewhere else for more pay but less perk?

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