All-access snack bars, foosball tables, chair massages: Since I've been out in the "real world," office perks like these have increasingly become the highlights of job descriptions. These companies are all hoping to attract the latest generation of working professionals (us).
While these perks can definitely make long days in the office more enjoyable, we should remember that a perk is exactly that: something that's meant to add vigor to the hours between 9 and 5. It's not meant to define them.
Before you let these (very attractive) factors sway your next career move, consider all of the pros and cons:
1. Good Food
From bagel Monday to pizza Friday, there's no denying food – let alone free food – is a godsend to us budgeting Millennials. With our culture's growing emphasis on health and fitness, health-friendly food choices and fresh snacks can be a real bonus.
If you find yourself going all "heart-eyed emoji" over a company's assortment of granola bars, look deeper. Find out if your potential co-workers share similar health-related values. Do they host hot yoga Wednesdays, form teams for company-wide 5Ks or offer discounted gym memberships?
Lunch time dodgeball tournaments are, without a doubt, a great way to conquer workplace stress or refresh after an afternoon of meeting deadlines. But if there's one thing we've been taught in the years leading up to post-grad life, it's that work isn't always meant to be fun or easy.
The harsh truth is, the majority of your time at work will be spent working. Therefore, your desire to work for a particular company should be based on the time you'd be proud to put in, not the time you'd be happy to spend goofing off in the rec room.
3. Flexible Hours
Companies that understand life happens — and have policies in place to reflect that — are very much appreciated. They're becoming more common as a result.
Flexible hours give you, the employee, the power to address life issues as they pop up. You can also put yourself to work at the times you know you'll be the most productive.
The downside? Flexible hours, alternating shifts and time spent working from home limit communication and collaboration time. They can even lessen real work-life balance.
Before you commit to a 10 am start or a 4 pm end, consider the effects flexible hours can have: not just on you and your personal life, but also on your co-workers and workplace production as a whole.
4. Open Floor Plans
Sounds super cool and collaborative, right? If you work best when you're surrounded by others, when interaction among co-workers is a near constant and when – due to close working quarters – the time you spend refreshing your Facebook feed is less frequent, then an open office space could be exactly what you're looking for.
But don't let a loft layout be the only factor to sell you on a future employer. For some people, lack of sound and visual privacy can be serious hindrances for productivity. If you're loving the company but not the set up, consider your other options: noise-canceling headphones, scheduling “work blocks” to postpone interruptions, relocating to a quieter space, etc.
Look beyond the "work hard, play hard" attitude. It's great that they like to drink beer, and it's even better if you can see yourself drinking beer with them. But what's more important for your career – and that's what you're here for, right? – is a company's commitment to your long-term success and professional growth.
When you're imagining your future with a company, make sure you can see yourself learning and advancing in your role, your skill set and your level of maturity. Remember: You won't find leadership in the snack drawer, but you will find it in a supportive group of co-workers and higher-ups who genuinely want to see you succeed.
This article was originally published on the the author's personal blog.