A lot of companies are finding that it's the little perks - like a drink on a Friday - that resonate most with the team and go a long way to fostering a spirit of loyalty and community...
I went into an office a few weeks ago to meet a couple of friends who I was having drinks and a meal with. They'd both worked for the same company for a good few years but had recently defected, along with a proportion of the rest of the staff, to a competitor company. I was happy to meet in their offices because I was keen to see what the big draw had been and, well, they told me there was a drink in it when I got there and it had been a long week...
And sure enough there was ! We're not talking about the office kitchen with a bottle of wine in the fridge and a few bottles of beer cooling in the door. This company had a real, bona fide bar in its office: an actual bar, complete with counter, big fridges and beer pumps and that, in itself, it turns out, had been a major part of the draw.
It was nearly 7 o clock on the Friday night when I buzzed the buzzer and yet a lot of the staff were still there - admittedly drinking and lounging about, but, well, even so! Over a beer, a number of the staff confirmed that they worked much longer hours at this company than anywhere else they had worked at because the office was set up to be far more social than other commercial environments and, even better, they had free drinks and snacks on tap.
The alcohol was strictly a Friday event but the free soft drinks - which included specialist coffees and other hot drinks - and snacks was all day and every day and that ticked a lot of boxes for this particular team.
Introducing free food and drink can be a pretty canny move. Not only does it encourage staff to put in the extra hours, arriving before breakfast and leaving later at the tail end of the day, it also builds staff morale by introducing an atmosphere of camaraderie. Members of staff who socialize with each other are far more likely to be loyal to each other and work well together than the individuals who don't have much of a relationship outside the confines of their job descriptions.
If staff are comfortable in each other's company and happy to be around each other, they will enjoy work a whole lot more and view the company more favorably by association.
Having the bar and the free drinks and snacks also sends out implicit messages from employers to employees: We like you; we appreciate you; we trust you not to abuse our hospitality; we want you to like being here and to enjoy the perks of the job.
Lastly, having a bar spells fun. Not only do the employees want a part of the fun, the clients will enjoy dropping by and have a more memorable time at these offices than anywhere else they happen to visit too.
Everyone enjoys good hospitality; it will always strike the right cord. And so there might be something in this ‘bar in the office' idea - particularly if you want to make your office the place to be.