What Makes a Great Workplace Environment?

What makes a company great to work for?

One that’s changing the world, in a place surrounded by great thinkers being led by a great mind, right?

Well you already knew that. Heck it’s a topic that’s been written about so much that it’s now simply a given. Forbes have a great piece on this, and we even wrote a guide to picking a perfect employer.

But what about the companies who aren’t necessarily changing the world in a sexy way? How can they prove to their staff that they are a great place to work too?

Don’t worry, we aren’t going to say you need to stop installing solar panels and become Tesla, we’ll tell you some ways to create an engaged workforce and why it matters.

What you should be doing for your staff?

The more perks you offer staff the more loyal and productive they will be, right? There is a big misconception that more is better.

No matter how many perks your competitors have, or how many slides they install, you shouldn’t focus on quantity. You should focus on quality. For example a perk that makes a tangible difference to your staff commuting to work, based on your office location and client commitments, will carry much more weight than a new snazzy sofa in the underutilised reception waiting room.

save time at work

To cut to the chase, We’re saying that you should try to incorporate as many employee specific perks as possible – ideally which make the most tangible difference in saving their time.

Why saving time? Well, it’s the most valuable resource that anyone has and we all treasure it deeply. Just think about it… would you rather spend all evening travelling on a train for a next-day morning meeting or have an evening off at home with your family? The evening at home right?

Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend
— Theophrastus




the time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
— Bertrand Russell

As for quantity, you won’t appeal to staff more than a competitor that offers 5* hotel stays and First Class travel to any meeting they attend, but you will have a happier workforce for the long-run, which will help you to beat your competition.

And here are the valued perks you can offer: food, health and flexibility on different working techniques.

How quickly should we be implementing these perks for the office?

Assuming the perks you are implementing are procedural, you don’t have to worry about velocity. Even if you implement many perks fast, staff won’t necessarily be taking them all up at once.

But over the years, we’ve seen a trend… mainly with new startups. If you offer loads of free perks without any of the staff having to earn the benefits, you’ll notice that the perks aren’t appreciated.

Eventually, staff will recognise that the company is giving them loads of benefits which they should be appreciative for, but rolling them out too fast or too early into launching a company is unnatural. We don’t know the inner workings of everyone’s mind (the brain is a complex beast) but this is what we have noticed over the last four years of office observations.

So if you are looking to be more active in engaging with staff, consider adding 1 perk for the first 30 days. Over the following few months, you can ramp it up. Here’s the velocity we would shoot for:

  • Month 1 – add 1 perk (ideally that everyone notices)
  • Month 2 – add 1 perk (focussed on the sales and marketing team)
  • Month 3 – add 1 perk (focussed on the support side of the business)
  • Month 4 – add 2 perks (ideally that’s focussed on staff well-being)
  • Month 5 – add 2 perks (ideally that’s focussed on team building)
  • Month 6 – add as many perks as possible (that will have the most positive externalities based on feedback from previous months)

As you can see, the first few months, you are focussing on building perks that will impact everyone in a positive way, but later you shift to more pertinent perks that make staff feel better about themselves.

food for the office

Why? Because it’s not natural to have the majority of your perks designed to look great for outsiders looking in. Just look at Google… they have an internal policy that staff are never more than 50 metres from food in the office. That saves staff time, so much so that famously some staff live in the Google campus.

Not only does it take time to choose the right perks to apply to your office culture, but it’s really hard to implement lots of new perks within your no doubt already busy work schedule, unless you have a team of insomniac elves that work for you or you’ve not got plans to sleep for the rest of the year.

 What happens if you roll out too many perks instantly?

If you roll out a whole host of perks too quickly, don’t worry. You shouldn’t be concerned with staff running wild at your expense or anything like that, assuming your perks are work relevant, and don’t involve free flights to Tahiti with 6 months no questions asked paid sabbaticals.

The only thing that might happen is your staff underutilise the perks you now offer for a few months, but after three months you should see an uptake in staff using your new perks and taking advantage of offered schemes.

If you aren’t seeing a sharp climb is staff engagement, it means either that your perks aren’t usable or you aren’t valuable enough. If it’s neither of the two, then you should create a Community Manager within your company and adjust how your contextualise your perk offering.

Nonetheless, those are simple fixes that should generate a more engaged employee workforce. Just don’t get nervous if you don’t notice an employee morale change right away.

Even when you create highly valued perks, it usually takes three to six months for the benefits to start percolating through the business. So if you are investing a lot of man-hours into publicising your new perks, don’t get remove or change them if you don’t see results within the first two or three months.


Using the formula above, we’ve seen dozens of Office Pantry offices improve their work place atmosphere. For example Withy King, a law firm, has been with us for the last 12 months and is now 42nd in the Sunday Times Best Places To Work For guide.

As you start offering more tailored perks, you’ll find that your staff are more productive. Your churn rate will decrease and there will be lots more cross-collaboration across internal teams. Over time, you’ll also find that employees talk about your company to friends and family outside of office hours, and this can even lead to more business.

When you have a happy workplace, keep in mind that the easiest route to maintaining employee happiness is by listening to staff suggestions. By creating a really good feedback and implementation loop, you will increase the likelihood of workplace satisfaction.

It’s the main reason we have Honest Wednesdays in the Office Pantry office.

What’s the best perk you have in your office?