Not that long ago, hoodie-wearing employees of the major tech companies could exult in the good life at the office: coffee made by top-notch baristas, nap pods, rubdowns by massage therapists, on-premises medical clinics, gourmet meals and an endless array of snacks.
But earlier this year, Meta — the parent company of Facebook and Instagram — announced it was cutting out free laundry and dry cleaning. Meal times at its Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters were moved to 6:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., the same time the company’s last bus shuttled employees off campus.
This came on the heels of Google cutting out the options to expense lunch deliveries and fitness classes.
Could it be that the golden age of the tech bro is over?
“They’re just picking away bit by bit. I think of it like death by a thousand cuts,” said one Meta insider. “Cutting perks affects morale, it affects how you feel about the company as a whole and how much the execs care about you.”
Add to that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg visibly losing his patience last month when asked in a company-wide conference call about whether “Meta Days” — extra time off introduced during the pandemic — would continue in 2023.
“Given my tone in the rest of the Q&A, you can probably imagine what my reaction to this is,” he reportedly said, after having announced expected cuts: “Part of my hope by raising expectations and having more aggressive goals, and just kind of turning up the heat a little bit, is that I think some of you might decide that this place isn’t for you, and that self-selection is OK with me.”
Suddenly, the tech sector’s chosen ones aren’t feeling so lucky.
“You have Mark saying, ‘I expect you do more with less’ and it’s burning people out. When you’re at a company like [Meta], when they love you it’s amazing, but when they turn on you, it’s awful,” said the Meta insider. “It feels very robotic. It puts everyone on edge. I wonder if this is the [tech bro] peak and then there will be a dramatic downfall.”
It’s a long way to drop, former employees told The Post.
“The biggest perk of Instagram was definitely food,” said Christen Nino De Guzman, a former employee of TikTok and Instagram who has since launched her own startup. “I really didn’t have to go grocery shopping. All three meals were served in the company’s incredible office. They employed Michelin-star chefs to work in the kitchen. The food was really high quality and made to accommodate every dietary restriction.”
Kenneth Waks, a former employee at Google’s Mountain View, Calif., office, said his favorite amenity was “The bowling alley. They also had so many game rooms and TV rooms. There was beer and alcohol everywhere, you could just take it whenever you wanted. It was like scouts’ honor with anything there. The fact that the offices were 24/7 was great too. On weekends, I would take the shuttle to the office to use the gym, grab some snacks, sit in the massage chair for a while, then head home.”
When amenities cease to exist, it can be like taking away a child’s favorite toy. Dropbox used to offer bulgogi, hibachi-grilled fish and beef tataki sushi — with the meat aged in house — at Tuck Shop in its San Francisco headquarters.
But in the wake of COVID and work-from-home adjustments, the company announced in December 2020 it would be initiating a flexible co-working set up at satellite offices — and later sold its four-building HQ. Gone went the fancy food, along with the state-of-the-art gym, meditation room and gaming arcade.
A former employee told Business Insider: “The removal [of Tuck Shop], I think, had a psychological effect on people.”
“Perks are definitely in the top five most important things to consider [before accepting a job]. If you’re trying to weigh between different companies, the perks can be the deciding factor,” the Meta insider said. “[Losing perks] may be the deciding factor that makes them want to leave.”
But De Guzman said there’s now a bigger draw than any in-office perk: working from home. Google, like Apple, has asked employees to return to the office three days a week, although the former is allowing some fully remote work options. Meta allows workers to return full-time, work out a hybrid agreement or request to be completely remote.
“Work culture has changed so much. People prefer remote work or hybrid schedules. A big draw for Google and Meta is that they have this incredible campus. But now it’s like ‘Oh, well, if I only have to go to work once a week, do I care about that? I’d rather just work from home,’” De Guzman said. “Office-related perks are less of a consideration for people. It’s more about compensation and other benefits that are, like, mental health related. When I think back to those days, I was living my entire life on campus from sunup to sundown.”