A Portland design firm purposely skipped office Ping-Pong tables and video games to get more employees to leave work on time

ESB Basic/ShutterstockSometimes, less is more.
  • Perks in the workplace sometimes subtly discourage you from leaving the office on time.
  • That’s why Portland design firm Work & Co decided against including fun distractions, like Ping-Pong tables.
  • Employees tend to value traditional benefits like 401-Ks and paid-time-off policies anyway.

Snazzy workplace perks aren’t always innocuous.

Sure, free or subsidized meals, beer on tap in the company kitchen, and arcade games tucked in the corners of the office sound fantastic. And they seem to be a staple at fancy tech offices, who are known to boast pastry chefs and karaoke machines. Such office elements have stoked the imaginations of office designers around the country, and we’ve seen some of these fun office benefits seep into other industries.

But there’s a growing backlash to eye-catching workplace perks. Critics hold that these kinds of enticing benefits mostly serve to keep employees in the office, to the detriment of their work-life balance. And a number of locales in California have accused free company cafeterias of harming local eateries, Business Insider reported.

Architecture critic Rowan Moore wrote in the Guardian that companies – especially big tech outfits – are increasingly creating spaces “wherein staff offer their lives, body and soul, day and night, in return for gyms, Olympic-sized swimming pools, climbing walls, basketball courts, running tracks and hiking trails, indoor football pitches, massage rooms and hanging gardens, performance venues, amiable art and loveable graphics.”

Digital design and technology agency Work & Co decided to go in a completely different direction with its office in Portland, Oregon, according to Fast Company. The designers at Casework strived to eliminate most trappings of a traditionally trendy office, eschewing Ping-Pong tables and game consoles.

“Our hope is that everyone leaves every day and gets home to their families and friends and doing the things they love to do outside of work because that motivates everyone to be better designers and developers,” Work & Co partner Casey Sheehan told Fast Company.

The idea of a more stripped-down, back-to-basics office seems especially promising, especially given the fact that people don’t tend to put much importance on flashier perks. Business Insider previously reported that employees tend to prefer that companies focus on basic benefits like 401K plans, healthcare, and paid-time-off policies.

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