With an expected shortfall of nearly a million qualified candidates over the next few years, there’s naturally fierce competition for good developers and software engineers, especially at the highest ends of the industry. The major players of Silicon Valley try to sweeten the pot for their skilled workforce in a number of ways beyond mere salary. One of the biggest cost-efficient draws they’ve hit upon are cool workplace perks. As with salaries, however, these have been subject to something of a bidding war — and the biggest players have come up with some benefits that the average office worker would find absolutely crazy.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the biggest and best that are currently on offer.
1) Sleep Pods (Samsung)
Normally, taking a nap at work will get you fired. At certain Silicon Valley companies, such as Samsung’s North American headquarters, it’s encouraged. In fact, they even facilitate employee’s ability to sleep by providing these “nap pods,” which look a bit like something out of a science fiction movie. Employees can close the lid and recline, angling their legs and feet at anywhere from 45 to 90 degrees as they prefer. The hood blocks out both light and sound once it is lowered, and some pods also allow users to turn on soothing music or white noise along with mild vibrations. The standard nap time is 20 minutes, though employees are free to doze longer if they care to.
2) Guest Speakers (Google)
Google’s wealth and clout allows them to pull in some pretty big names to give motivational and informative talks for free to their employees, referred to internally as “Talks At Google” or “AtGoogleTalks.” How about President Obama, for starters? He visited there while he was on the campaign trail in 2007, just two weeks before the election when he was at the height of his popularity. Other major names the company has drawn for their free employee talks include Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Conan O’ Brien, Andrea Bocelli and spiritual guru Karmapa just to name a few. This is one of the very few Silicon Valley perks that outsiders don’t have to be jealous about; Google makes just about all of these talks available to the public on their Youtube channel.
3) Recording Studio (Weebly)
Forget naps and free snacks in the middle of the workday; what if you feel the need to rock? Weebly has employees covered with an in-house studio that is open to anyone who suddenly feels the call of the creative muse. Not only can audio recordings be made, but videos as well.
4) Field Trips (Expensify)
Remember how a fun field trip would break up the monotony of the school routine and be an exciting thing to look forward to? Expensify has brought that into the world of grown-up work with their “Offshoring” program. Each year, the team temporarily packs up and works from offices in another country for one month, and puts their employees up in AirBnb rentals. Past destinations have included Vietnam, Portugal and Thailand. Employees get together to discuss next year’s destination, and no possibilities are off the board as long as they have good internet connectivity.
5) Hard Liquor (Dropbox)
Boozing at work? Dropbox says “why not?” At least on Fridays, where the company makes some high-end whiskies available to employees to close out the work week.
As one of the world’s greatest concentrations of wealth, Silicon Valley gets to play by a lot of rules that the rest of us don’t. If you’ve got the chops to get your foot in the door as an employee or entrepreneur, it’s an amazing place to be.