Corporate perks that save time (not just money)

Would you be more productive if your company cooked dinner, did your laundry and ferried your kids to school? The new corporate perk hits home.

Sure, retirement plans are great, and few will argue with deals at major hotel and rental car chains.

But how many of your corporate perks actually help you perform better for your company?

Silicon Valley, long known for its flashy corporate benefits -- from foosball tables to massages to more yoga than you can shake a wheatgrass protein-added smoothie at -- is leading the way yet again, only this time, it's more practical: additional funds for new parents, housecleaning, take-home dinners, short-notice child care services.

Matt Richtel reports for the New York Times:

These kinds of benefits are a departure from the upscale cafeteria meals, massages and other services intended to keep employees happy and productive while at work. And the goal is not just to reduce stress for employees, but for their families, too. If the companies succeed, the thinking goes, they will minimize distractions and sources of tension that can inhibit focus and creativity.

It's the next step in corporate work: the company-as-personal-assistant.

Entrepreneurs have long touted the hiring of assistants as key in helping them escape administrative drudgery to better do what they do, but taking that lesson and applying it to every employee of a company is another thing altogether.

What if your company could pinch hit for you on dog walks, housecleaning, laundry and more? Why hire your own help when it's your company that's pushing you down this path?

At a time when "work-life balance" means everything and nothing to high-powered employees, it's interesting to see the emergence of a helicopter company that cares, in a systemic way, about employees' lives outside the office. In all, it's not a bad approach. But to what end?

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