As the vaccine rollout continues across the US, Americans are preparing to return to the office. In Australia, however, some businesses returned to in-person work as early as June 2020. For a quick peek into our future, we asked our colleagues down under to share what’s trending as they make their way back to work.
Food is a top employee benefit in Australia in 2021
Aussies are a nation of foodies, so it’s no surprise that employers are using free food to entice their teams back into the office.
Recent research by Uber Australia reveals that more than 50% of Aussies prefer free food over a flexible workplace policy, and almost 60% of employees wish their office offered free meals or food vouchers. The findings also show that millennials (58%) are the most food-obsessed professionals in the country, making up the largest percentage of Aussies who would prefer free food over any other work perk.
The Head of Enterprise for Uber for Business Australia and New Zealand, Tim Rossanis, has seen firsthand how Australian businesses have used food to support their employees throughout lockdown. In fact, the number of Australian companies using Uber for Business for corporate meal solutions has almost doubled from pre-COVID times.
“Food is the way to many people’s hearts,” says Rossanis, “and it comes as no surprise that in a year like 2020, where many of us have been stuck at home for months on end, that employers are looking for ways to keep employees motivated and engaged.
“While our Melbourne colleagues are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, at the height of the lockdown large enterprises were offering Eats on Uber for Business and digital gift cards to [their] Melbourne-based staff to help keep spirits up.
“But free food is not just a work perk being offered by big business. Over a third of orders we have seen through Eats on Uber for Business this year were made by SMBs.”
Aussies look for safe commute and transport solutions
People in Australia are also interested in transport and commute benefits. Forty-one percent of respondents wanted assistance getting to work post-COVID. The same research reveals that:
- Almost one-third (29%) of respondents said the money they saved from not commuting during the pandemic is discouraging them from returning to the office
- More than half (55%) of Aussies between ages 25 and 44 would be more likely to return to the office if their workplace offered free or subsidized commutes
- In the same age group, 53% would like their employers to provide a carpool option
- Almost a quarter (24%) of respondents said their daily commute does not allow enough space for social distancing
In Australia, says Rossanis, “not everyone is comfortable with taking public transport yet, and the economic impact of commuting is deterring many people from returning to the office even when it is safe to do so. Some employers will have to help with the daily commute if they want Aussies back in the office, or provide alternative options that do not lead to more cars on our roads as people opt to drive rather than get a bus or train.”
Employers in the United States will likewise need to pay attention to employees’ level of comfort on public transit and consider providing commute options if needed.
Additional research findings from Australia
- Millennials make up the largest age bracket of those who say free/discounted commutes is one of their top ideal work perks
- Millennials also make up the largest percentage (28%) of those who say free food or meal vouchers would be their ideal work perk
As employers in the United States ready workplaces for employees’ return, Australia’s learnings show that free or subsidized food and commute options could be tools to help employees feel comfortable and safe.
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