There’s no place like New York City. One of the most iconic cities in the world, it’s home to over 8 million residents who thrive on the city’s booming nightlife, incredible arts and culture, and seemingly endless job opportunities. Though the pandemic has slowed things down over the past year, the city that never sleeps is starting to wake up again—with a roar. Today, New York companies are leading the way in the return to work and life. They’re finding new ways to engage employees in a post-pandemic world by: exploring hybrid work models, offering food benefits, and more. Keep reading to learn from some of the world’s most innovative companies, and how they’re driving business results in the face of the “new normal.”

Where should employees work?

One of the biggest questions is where employees should work post-pandemic. After over a year of working from home, many New York-based companies are exploring other options to help them retain employees.

Getting back into the office

In a major signal that New York City is reopening for business, all 80,000 city workers returned to the office in early May. It’s a bold move, but one that sets the tone for businesses across the country: to move forward, it’s time to change how we work. For some businesses, that means going back to the office full-time.

While some workers are excited to see colleagues in person again, others are concerned about safety practices. If you’re considering asking employees to come back to the office full-time or part-time, make sure to develop intensive safety practices, training, and protocols to ensure your staff feels comfortable when they’re in the office, so they can focus on their work and worry less about their health.

Embracing hybrid work models

Hybrid work models are surging in popularity following the pandemic: the Accenture Future of Work Study 2021, showed that 83% of workers prefer a hybrid work model, and that 63% of high-growth companies have already adopted a “productivity anywhere” workforce model. 

There are several ways to structure a hybrid work model, but all of them include a mix of remote and on site working hours. For some companies, that means an expected minimum amount of days each week that an employee will spend in the office, either on a predetermined schedule or one that changes week to week. For other companies, a hybrid work schedule can be more flexible and leave it up to individual employees to determine how much in-office time they’re comfortable with. Many, including DoorDash, are leveraging coworking spaces, which offer flexibility without having to sign a New York commercial lease. If teams want to eat in-office together, Group Orders is a safer alternative to catering, as all meals are individually wrapped.

Responding to employee safety concerns, many leading companies are pivoting to hybrid work arrangements. Instead of going fully remote or asking non-essential employees to return to an office full-time, many businesses are embracing a hybrid work model, where staff go into the office a handful of days per week on a predetermined schedule. For example, Google is testing having employees work from the office just three days a week, and Ford Motor is leaving it up to employees and their managers to decide on a schedule that works best for them.

In New York City specifically, 66% of major companies plan to implement a hybrid model, recognizing the value this provides to employees. Employees like the flexibility and safety of part-time working from home with hybrid models, while also getting access to key resources and time spent face-to-face on the days they do go into the office.

Letting employees go fully-remote

While not for everyone, some companies are letting their employees choose to go fully-remote. For example, Spotify expects its New York office to stay empty or return but with a lower capacity. 

“We believe that we’re on top of the next change, which is the Distributed Age, where people can be more valuable in how they work, which doesn’t really matter where you spend your time,” explained Alexander Westerdahl, Vice President of Human Resources at Spotify, in a recent New York Times article.

If you choose to let employees go remote full-time, make sure to implement policies that help keep them connected despite the distance. Consider implementing tactics that help fuel productivity for a remote workforce, and host regular virtual team-building activities that bring people together.

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How to redesign your benefits package for the new normal

As many companies change their policies around where and how employees work, they will also need to update their benefits packages to match. According to the Return to Office Survey Results from Partnership New York City, 24% of New York employers surveyed offer or plan to offer employees at least one COVID-19-related benefit, which includes “subsidized public and private transit, onsite COVID-19 testing, paid time off for vaccination appointments, free or reduced-cost lunches, and changes to the workplace, including upgraded facilities and additional private offices.” Here’s what to consider when creating your return to work strategy.

Update your meal benefits

Food benefits can be an important part of overall employee satisfaction. In fact, a recent DoorDash for Work survey found that 63% of companies with a robust food program in place have seen a positive impact on company culture. As your company shifts to a hybrid or on site work model, make sure you offer meal benefits that are flexible and can adapt to your new work situation.

DoorDash for Work makes it easy for employers to sponsor meals and offer wellness benefits that can support employees, no matter where they work. There are four options to keep your employees fed and productive:

  • DashPass for Work: Add a DoorDash subscription to your benefits package and give employees accessible meals with free delivery and reduced service fees on eligible orders. DashPash for Work can also be used to order pantry staples like diapers, milk, and more—helping cut down on time spent taking care of things at home.
  • Expensed Meals: Set a food ordering budget for employees to easily expense meals, on their schedule.
  • Group Orders: Use Group Orders to feed employees at the office. Employees can easily add all of their orders to one cart, and the food arrives labeled and individually packaged for easy, safe distribution.
  • Employee Gift Cards: For special one-offs, DoorDash for Work Employee Gift Cards are a great way to acknowledge your team, celebrate milestones, and say thanks during the holiday season.

One of the biggest questions for New York companies is: DoorDash vs. Seamless? How do I know which one works best for my business? Since DoorDash doesn’t charge a corporate account fee, using DoorDash for Work for employee meals instead of other New York food delivery logistics companies could help you save more. Learn more about DoorDash for Work and how it can help your business thrive in the new normal.

Support caretakers

One of the biggest signals that New York City is reopening for business is that New York schools plan to reopen in the fall, with no options for remote learning. This matters because it means New York parents won’t need to help their kids with school at home—meaning they’ll have one less thing to juggle while working remotely.

Even as schools open up, consider other ways you ease the load of caretakers on your team. For example, employees may be caring for elderly parents or relatives, or looking after small children too young to attend in-person schools.

Caretaker benefits are also a unique selling point for your company: a recent U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study 2021 from MetLife showed that 62% of employees surveyed were interested in caregiver benefits. There are many ways to support caretakers too, including offering caretaker stipends, on site childcare, flexible schedules, meal and delivery benefits, and more. From Expensed Meals to DashPass for Work, DoorDash for Work can help your employees focus on taking care of themselves and others, with less time worrying about day-to-day tasks like meal prep, doing dishes, picking up diapers and prescriptions, and more. Whether working at home or the office, DoorDash for Work benefits can help reduce the workload for caretakers.

Fight burnout — in person and remote

Burnout is on the rise. A recent Indeed survey showed that 67% of respondents believe that burnout has gotten worse over the course of the pandemic. It’s even affected employees who work remotely: 44% of employees have experienced video call fatigue since the pandemic began.

Finding ways to fight burnout is crucial to building a strong work culture and maintaining retention. Look for ways to encourage work-life balance, including small everyday changes like implementing walking meetings or no-meeting Mondays, or setting up employee bonding activities like team meals and other food-based benefits. DoorDash for Work can make the process of managing team meals easier and ensure your employees are eating nourishing meals—wherever they are.

Following New York’s lead

As we head into the new normal, remember to maintain an adaptable mindset. Take inspiration from some of New York’s leading companies to learn how they’re adapting to changing times by updating their remote work policies and implementing new benefits that support and retain valuable employees.

Need ideas on where to start? Download The State of Employee Benefits Report to gain research-backed insights on the employee benefits that drive measurable results. It’s a good time to try something new to help your business grow and thrive—make the new normal feel a bit more normal for everyone. 


Ali Cottong

Ali Cottong is a freelance content marketer with a wide range of experience crafting content and strategy for brands that include a world-renowned design agency, a men's artisan boot company, that app you use to request money on your phone, and more. Ali originally earned her nerd cred as a world-class Quidditch player and has competed in the Quidditch World Cup twice. She currently lives in Oakland where she's traded her broomstick in for a bike.