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The Tech World’s Tactics for Keeping Workers Working

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Illustration by Al Murphy  

Tech companies ­are as famous for their grueling work hours as they are for their lavish perks. The dual reputation isn’t necessarily a coincidence. Fancy perks might help attract new talent and, as Gallup chief workplace management scientist Jim Harter put it, help define “the values and rituals of the organization.” They also have the added benefit of encouraging those days-long programming binges. Why else would Google’s future headquarters include an overnight camping site?

Maid-Service Motivation
In Mountain View, California, Googlers can not only get their cars oiled and washed while they’re at work but also drop off their dry-cleaning and pick up fresh fish to take home for dinner. Meanwhile, the biotech company Genentech finds babysitters for its workers, and Evernote employees get treated to semi-monthly housecleaners.
Dry-cleaning also offered by: Facebook.

The De-stresser Gambit
Google and Eventbrite offer subsidized (or outright free) massages and acupuncture. Warby Parker even held hypnotherapy sessions for its employees. But when it comes to proper full-service pampering, no one does it like social-gaming company Zynga, whose offices include a health club and hair salon. And the must-have perk for any tech start-up these days: yoga. The better to keep those stressed-out employees from seeking bliss outside the office.
Haircuts also offered by: Google, Facebook
Yoga offered by: Airbnb, Twitter, Google, Asana, Eventbrite, Rent the Runway, ModCloth, Warby Parker, Tumblr.

Gastronomic Gimmicks
Companies from Eventbrite to StumbleUpon to Warby Parker keep a fully stocked snack room these days. But not all snack rooms are created equal: Zynga’s is a candy room, Google’s serves up healthy fare like juice and dried banana chips (M&M’s and other cavity-inducing goodies are hidden away in opaque jars). The real bragging rights, however, come with having a gourmet chef on-campus. Task-management software-maker Asana, for instance, provides its employees with two organic meals a day. Facebook recently poached former Google chef Josef Desimone to serve up gourmet fare at its Menlo Park, California, headquarters. Around the world, Google runs about 100 kitchens for its staff; its New York office even gets its own food truck.
Free meals also offered by: Airbnb, Dropbox, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Zynga, Eventbrite, Warby Parker, Foursquare, ZocDoc.

Furry-Friend Bait
Before the dot-com crash, it was considered pioneering of Amazon to allow dogs into its offices. But nowadays dog lovers all over Silicon Valley can work to the rhythm of wagging tails. Zynga also offers dog grooming on-site, and Tumblr “hired” a Pomeranian intern. Still, not everyone is onboard. A Facebook spokesman told the New York Times, “We don’t want to give aromatherapy for your dog. We want things that are functional for you and your family.”
Dogs are also allowed at: Airbnb, Eventbrite, Yammer, Google, ModCloth, Thrillist.

Liquid Incentives
It used to be that start-ups enticed employees with colorful sofas and Ping-Pong tables. Now the office has become a full-service entertainment hub. At Dropbox, this includes the on-site music studio. At Google, there’s the indoor slide and the bowling alley. Beer on tap, a common fixture, makes up for all those missed happy hours. Thrillist goes a step further, hosting regular liquor tastings for its workers, and Dropbox holds a Whiskey Friday every week. Warby Parker even established an official Fun Committee to plan office social events and outings, including a recent pickling demonstration.
Beer on tap offered by: Eventbrite, Fab, Rent the Runway, Warby Parker, Foursquare, Thrillist.

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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