the best office perk anyone could ever offer me

And now a word from a sponsor…

I love massages. I’m obsessed with them. And while I didn’t think anything could make me want to go back to working in an office ever again, Soothe at Work has tempted me.

Soothe is the #1 in-office massage company in the world, with over 9,000 massage therapists in 54 cities globally. Yes, massages. In your office. After your stressful meeting with the office jerk, or when you’re done racing to meet a ridiculous deadline, or just for the hell of it.

Here’s how it works: When you sign up with Soothe at Work, they’ll send five-star massage therapists right to your office with equipment for seated chair massages (you stay fully clothed for those!). These aren’t hour-long massages like you might get on your own; Soothe says that 15 minutes per person is ideal since it’s the perfect length to rejuvenate and recharge without falling asleep or getting too relaxed.

Why offer massages at work at all? Besides the obvious – that it’s awesome – it decreases stress, boasts morale, and for a lot of people is a really attractive employee perk. In fact, lots of big companies, like Hulu, Yahoo, PayPal, SmashBox, SpaceX, and Slack use Soothe. (Other cool customers: Drunk History and Funny or Die!)

Massage doesn’t have to be a luxury to do in your office once a year. The idea is to build an employee wellness program that offers weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly massages. And you don’t have to be huge and rich to do it. It costs less than $25 per employee, so it’s roughly the same cost as a team lunch or happy hour.

(Soothe also seems to treat their massage therapists really well, paying them more than they’d get working at a spa, which is really nice to see.)

If your office is looking for ways to promote health and wellness, suggest Soothe at Work. This is so much better than weight loss reward programs, mandatory rock climbing, pushy dieticians, or any of the other office wellness programs we sometimes hear about here.

You can learn more here – and Ask a Manager readers will even receive $100 off your first Soothe at Work appointment by signing up through this page!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Soothe at Work. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

{ 67 comments… read them below }

  1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    We do 2-3 catered meals a week during tax season… it’s nice not to have to cook, but bringing in massage therapists also sounds amazing. Maybe I should send this to management for next year!

  2. Blue Anne*

    Our bosses brought in masseuses twice during tax season and it was amazing. I’d love it year round…

    1. Kat M*

      It’s actually “massage therapist” now in the US, as we no longer use gendered terminology in the profession.

      1. WhirlwindMonk*

        I always assumed masseuse was gender-neutral. Does it refer to male or female and what’s the term for the other, just out of curiosity?

        1. Jilly*

          The word masseuse is the French feminine and the French masculine is masseur. But in English the gender neutral is massage therapist.

        2. Jen*

          It is from French where -euse denotes the feminine version and -eur denotes the masculine version. But in French every noun has a gender (la maison, le monde) which is not really a thing in English.

        3. LovelyDay*

          I’m an LMT and educate folks to use “massage therapist” because we are a licensed profession. “Masseuse” indicates someone who is conducting massages but doesn’t have a license.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            I’m also an LMT (or rather, LMP, since I’m in Washington; we use the term ‘practitioner’ here), and wanted to add a little context.

            LovelyDay, I don’t know about where you are, but here we try to educate people away from masseuse/masseur terminology not just because it means unlicensed — but because it very often means the folks who use massage as a front for sex work.

            Which is really annoying, to be honest. I don’t have anything against sex work, and I genuinely hope they legalize it so people can stop pretending to be other things. But it’s not what *I* do, and the use of massage-related terms as a thin cover for such work makes me and the other licensed therapists much more likely to be propositioned by clients who don’t understand the difference. We’re taught how to handle that when it happens, but it’s always awkward and unpleasant, and occasionally scary, depending on how pushy the client wants to be.

            So we try to distinguish ourselves in every way we can, especially by emphasizing the licensed aspect of our work. We are trained to a state-mandated standard, and have a strict code of ethics which, among many other things, forbids us from any kind of sexual or romantic interaction with our clients, including when they’re off the table and even up to two years after they’d stopped treatment. Calling us masseuses/masseurs, just like calling what the sex workers do “massage,” just helps to confuse two very different categories of work that we’ve been trying for decades to teach people to separate.

            So if we sound like we’re being sticklers on terminology, that’s why. I’m sorry — I don’t mean to get on anyone’s case. But it really is important to us. Cumulatively, whether people use the right terminology or not will make a lot of difference in how many therapists are going to have to deal with somebody expecting them to do work which just isn’t what they signed on for.

      2. Language Lover*

        Plus, masseuse had taken on certain connotations shall we say which is demeaning to all the training and work most massage therapists do.

        1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

          Yes – every massage therapist I personally know vehemently dislikes the term masseuse and associates it with sex workers operating under the guise of giving massages as a front for prostitution.

          1. Fuzzywuzzy*

            Fun fact: when my mom finished her training and started working as a licensed massage therapist (this was circa 25 ago), she had to go to the police station and be fingerprinted. It was humiliating.

            1. Chinook*

              Can I ask why that would be humiliating? It is quite common in Canada to require police background checks for anyone working with vulnerable persons (which someone naked, lying on their face could be considered). Fingerprints are required if someone with a record also has the same birthdate and gender as you (to prove you are not that person).

    2. Marillenbaum*

      Our grad student association hires massage therapists during finals week every semester. Free 15-minute massages in the grad lounge of the library and it is BEAUTIFUL. I will routinely go back multiple times over the course of the week if it’s not busy.

  3. Niiiila*

    OMG this sounds amazing! Clicking through right now and going to send this to my boss.

  4. Parcae*

    I’m sure this is obvious to all regular AAM readers, but if you offer an office massage service, make sure it is really easy to opt out. Feeling pressured to get a massage would definitely increase my stress levels. Yes, I know I’m weird. ;)

    1. k*

      My office brought in someone like this once and they just set up in an unused conference room and an email had been sent out saying you could stop by if you wanted. I assume most companies would do it in a similar way, low key. I have to chuckle a bit picturing someone trying for force massages on their coworkers, but knowing some of the stories we see here I guess anything is possible.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        My company brought in a massage therapist for chair massages once, they set it up in a similar way. You had to sign up for a time slot (10 or 15 min?) ahead of time, but it was totally opt-in.

        Haha, now I’m picturing that scene in HIMYM when Barney and Marshall had a weird coworker that would just suddenly appear and start rubbing their shoulders.

    2. TootsNYC*

      Also, people saying, “Oh, you should have a massage! It’s great!” is the kind of pressure you should figure out how to resist without stress.

      1. Parcae*

        Well, I mean, I *do* resist that kind of pressure without stress. People enjoy massages and want to spread the word; that’s great. It’s the difference between the coworker who offers you a cookie and accepts your “no, thank you” cheerfully and the one who wants to launch a federal investigation into Why You Don’t Like Cookies. I think we’ve all been there! Thankfully, there are more of the first type of coworkers out there than the second.

    3. Catherine from Canada*

      No, you’re not weird.
      I don’t like massages either i) not really big on strangers touching me ii) the one time I had a massage, the therapist assured me they knew how to manage a fibromyalgia client. They didn’t and I had trouble walking for a week.
      My sisters and daughters are big massage fans and are always trying to get me to try again. Thanks, but no thanks.

      1. Lurkerbee*


        I also suffer from fibro. I would really encourage you to give massage another try. It’s rough when you get a therapist who doesn’t fully understand fibromyalgia, but you will begin to feel so much better if you receive regular massage. I was able to get return to work. Make sure you drink a lot of water after, because massage releases toxins that are stored in your muscles. If you don’t flush those out you will hurt worse. I had to work up to seeing and feeling the full benefits, but as a sufferer for 15 years, massage is the best tool I’ve found to help with the pain. Please try again, and don’t be afraid to start with super light pressure and work up to firm. You’ll feel better.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          Hoo boy. I know this one from both ends. I’m a licensed massage practitioner… and I also have severe fibromyalgia. I actually chose to specialize in chronic pain clients because I know what it’s like from the inside, and not everyone who works with us does.

          Lurkerbee, I can see your point. I’m really glad that massage works for you, and if I didn’t truly believe it to be helpful for the vast majority of fibromyalgics, I wouldn’t do what I do. But I know too well that there are people whose bodies just can’t handle it, and also that depending on where one is, it can sometimes be tough to find a therapist qualified to deal with fibromyalgia in particular. I was actually the practice dummy for my ENTIRE massage school the year I attended, because all of them wanted to learn how to deal with people with fibro, and used me to learn on!!

          So I can’t join in urging Catherine to try massage again. It MIGHT work well, and it might be worth her while to consider it; but she knows her own body and her own illness — I don’t. I do know that there are therapists out there who know how to handle fibro a lot better than the one she got… but even I can sometimes hurt people by accident when I’m dealing with something this delicate, and I know fibro literally inside and out.

          Catherine, IF you were to decide you wanted to do a test run on whether massage might help you if it were done by a therapist who knows fibro well, and you tell me what general area you’re in, I’d be happy to see if anyone I know has referrals there whom they trust to handle it. But if you just want to say, “I don’t really like to be touched anyway, and I’ve got other things that are handling the fibro pretty well. Not interested, thanks,” you’re absolutely within reason to decide that. Massage for fibromyalgia is much *less* of a gamble when dealing with a therapist who knows the disorder well, but it is always at least a little bit of a gamble; and if you don’t like it anyway, I can completely understand why you’d just not want to go there.

      2. Ellie*

        Yeah, I have rheumatoid arthritis and massage has never gone well for me. And I hate strangers touching me–I even hate most people I consider friends touching me–but it’s consistently the first thing someone mentions when they find out I have RA. A lot of, “have you tried massage? you should try massage. i’m going next week you should come with me” and not understanding that it just causes more stress for me to have to deal with someone touching me while being very very aware of where and how they’re touching me.

        My work occasionally brings massage therapists in for things like employee appreciation and administrative assistants days. And everyone in the office goes nuts and tries to push the few people who don’t want that to do it. Honestly, I prefer when they buy us pizza.

    4. Editor*

      My last job hired a massage therapist to come in and do chair massages one morning a month. It was incredibly popular and usually every time slot filled up.

      In order to change up who got to sign up first, the email about sign-ups changed each month. One month it would be first floor first, then second floor an hour later, the next month, people with birthdays the first half of the year, then people from the second half. One time it was people with red or blue cars first, people with other colors second. The change-ups meant different people got left out each month, but most everyone who wanted them got massages about two-thirds of the time.

      It was a wonderful perk. Now that I don’t work there any more, I still sometimes go to that massage therapist, who really helped me with some muscle problems I had in my back. The business owners wanted to support this massage therapist, and I think they did make a difference both by being regular customers but also by introducing him to all the employees. I never heard anyone being pressured or teased about getting a massage, and this was an office where participation in “fun” was really pushed.

    5. LBK*

      When they do it in my office, there’s just an open signup sheet available in the fitness center (where they do the massages). Totally opt-in.

    6. Working Hypothesis*

      No sane massage therapist would work in a program which pressured anyone, Parcae!! Our professional code of ethics is super-intense on the subject of informed consent from the client for absolutely EVERYTHING we do. Even for the extremely few therapists who might not personally care enough about the ethics to turn down a job, they know full well that they’d lose their licenses if they tried it. Nobody will risk that just for one job. Soothe couldn’t get away with offering programs at anywhere which pressured their people into it, and the individual therapists would reject the assignment if it tried.

  5. i'm in the wrong office*

    I work at PayPal and we don’t have Soothe at my location! Must be a headquarters perk only (typical!). We did have Manicube for a while though – but it was self-pay and the manicures weren’t great – it was only about $4 cheaper than the gel manicures you can get on any block and they didn’t use quality polish so it chipped within 2-3 days. I loved the idea of an in-office manicure but the program had some issues with execution.

  6. Bad Candidate*

    My old company offered this. My current one is supposed to be starting it soon, I’m not sure if it’s this company or something else. I could use one today, my neck is killing me.

  7. Kat M*

    Not gonna badmouth any AAM sponsors, because any supporter of Alison’s is a positive in my book.

    I’m just going to remind folks that your local massage therapy business also probably has a mobile chair massage program, and they are generally more likely to pay their MTs a living wage.

    1. SootheAtWork*

      Hi Kat,

      This brings up a really good point! However, at Soothe, we actually pay our therapists 4-5x what they make at a local massage vendor… that’s because as an on-demand service, we don’t have extra expenses of a location, rent, utilities, staff, etc. You can rest assured that with Soothe, the massage therapists are paid incredibly well!

  8. TootsNYC*

    When your boss asks what he could give you as a thank-you, and there isn’t money for bonuses or raises…

    1. Marillenbaum*

      We had something like that once–my coworkers and I finished our section of the annual Massive Work Thing a week early (!), and for budget-y reasons above my pay grade bonuses weren’t an option. Instead, my boss bought us each a bottle of our favorite wine and let us have a Friday off without using our PTO. I felt hella appreciated after that!

  9. Discordia Angel Jones*

    I could really, really do with a massage right now…

    Acting on refinancing transactions as a lawyer is really stressful y’all… ;)

  10. CatCat*

    I worked at a place that had a massage therapist in for chair massages every other week. It wasn’t free, but rather discounted (I think it was something like $10-15 for the employees). It was awesome.

    The company was otherwise kind of crappy, but this perk was well-liked and appreciated. If only they’d had better management of employees to go along with it.

  11. Turtlewings*

    Shout-out to everyone like me who knows logically that this is an awesome perk but, alas, would never want a stranger touching them at work! We are not alone (even when we’d rather be)!

  12. Amber Rose*

    I wish massage places had the clothes-on options more often. If I’m really suffering then I’ll cope with the clothes-off type, and obviously need to do that for acupuncture which I have developed a weird affection for. But I really, strongly dislike being unclothed around or touched by strangers. Anyways sometimes I just want a shoulder rub.

    But I usually only see the mobile ones in malls from time to time.

    1. TCO*

      Every massage therapist I’ve ever had has made it clear that you only disrobe to your level of comfort, and keeping all of your clothes on is okay (even in a real spa-type setting where you’re on a table, not in a chair). Could be an option when you’re willing to spring for a full massage and not just the 15-minute shoulder rub.

    2. Myra*

      A good massage therapist can work with that limitation, just let us know what you want and we can adapt a treatment to suit. I do Indian Head Massage therapy which is done with cothes on anyway, but I’ve adapted other massage styles to work with clients who preferred not to remove their clothing. It’s perfectly doable. Don’t let this stop you getting a massage!

      (It is usually a lot easier to observe and evaluate the condition of the muscles without clothing, but it is NOT essential.)

    3. Aurion*

      Are you going to a proper clinic for your massages? Every massage therapist I’ve been to–and I’ve been to quite a few–has emphasized that you should only take off as much clothes as you’re comfortable with.

    4. Partly Cloudy*

      One of the best (fully clothed) chair massages I ever had was in the Newark airport. I had time to kill before my flight and it was the best way to spend 20 minutes and $20 EVER.

      I’ve worked in two offices that offered chair massages. For me, it is a lovely perk.

    5. Laura (Needs a New Name)*

      My experience has been that any massage therapist should be willing to work with you for whatever you’re comfortable with! I would be both surprised and really annoyed at someone who wasn’t. I wish I could send you to my massage therapists! They are miracle workers and also super respectful and communicative.

    6. alter_ego*

      There’s a comedian (of course I forget who) who has a joke about how when the massage therapist tells him to undress “to his comfort level” is tempted to go get a sweater to put on in addition to whatever he’s already wearing. I think it was Jon Richardson

  13. Tavie*

    I don’t know if our office uses this service, but this post is timely as I just had my first in-office chair massage yesterday. 20 minutes for $20. It was heaven. HEAVEN.

  14. Dive*

    There are places spending $25 per employee on happy hours? My company only buys the first drink, which is $10 or under at the local dive bar.

  15. Kbug*

    I probably would not utilize this type of perk, between needing very specialized physical care and also not really liking people I don’t know touching me, but I know lots of people who would ADORE this! If they were coming in on any sort of frequent basis (monthly, even quarterly), I’d probably appreciate if it was the same therapist, to sort of build continuity and get comfortable.

  16. Trout 'Waver*

    I read the title as ‘office prank’ instead of ‘office perk’ and thought we were for another doozy of a thread. I’d love an office massage perk, though.

  17. FisharenotFriends*

    I work at a massage therapy school, sometimes we are pretty much required to go in for a 75 minute treatment to help the students get the hours for their clinical internships… sometimes work is so hard.

  18. Aunt Margie at Work*

    We’re having our health fair today. Just got a massage downstairs. Big fan.

  19. AlwhoisthatAl*

    I do Manufacturing Software consultancy (ERP, MRP etc) 4 days a week and Deep Tissue Massage the other 3 days week. The Consultancy pays the bills…. The DTM is what I love.
    This isn’t the back rub type of massage, this breaks down the knots, scar tissue and realigns the muscle fibres increasing the blood flow – so it hurts but the benefits are great.
    My main problem is that blokes often don’t go for it, thinking it’s “girly” in some way. I usually just remind them that it was a matter of course for Samurai to have a massage after training and look at all the Sportspeople who have one.
    So try one, you might just like it.

    1. Laura (Needs a New Name)*

      I have one massage therapist I see when I want to relax and another who does similar work to yours who I see to Fix Shit. It is painful but so worth it.

      1. AlwhoisthatAl*

        I wonder if I should out that on my Business Card…. Al – Fixes Shit – ‘Nuff Said.

  20. Alli525*

    We had something similar at a start-up I briefly worked for in 2010 – every week during the summer we would have a yogi come in and teach an optional class, and a masseuse would come in on the same day and offer slots for chair massages. I never took advantage but it was such a nice option – completely optional and private.

  21. Anon because I'm revealing location*

    Come to SC, please. Preferably Columbia. We’ve got plenty of crazy to cause stress here…….

  22. zora*

    I work in a cowork space, and some months they have a massage therapist come in on a Friday and offer 20 minute massages all day long for $30. You have to register and pay ahead of time through an app she uses, so it makes it quick and easy to schedule it into my day. Totally worth it to me! I’ve done it a couple of times and she was really great, and it felt amazing to have some time to relax before the weekend.

    My coworkers haven’t taken advantage yet, because they are on a billable hour system, and they don’t want to lose the time, but I think the 20 minutes is the perfect amount of time for the work day, without feeling guilty that I’ve been away from my desk too long.

    I feel like this is a way companies could do it without actually spending the $, just providing the space, but offering an affordable break to your employees!

    1. zora*

      Oh, and she does table massage, not chair. But she does it over clothes because the time is so short. I just take off extra layers like my sweater.

    2. JAM*

      My coworking space I’m in offers 30-60 minute massages in a conference room that converts to a fully private massage room. Even the door locks change rights for privacy and you can book using the normal Roomzilla functions. I think it’s about $30/30 minutes and a small fee added in so you can do square pay. They also do guided meditation and yoga in other spaces in the building.

      My main campus for my office offers the 10 minute chair massages that you can easily book through an internal booking system, the same one we can use to book wellness clinic appointments. The wellness clinic operates 2 days a week and the massages are held on alternating 2 days a week and it works really well. The massages are a quick $10 cash there. I rarely take advantage of either option but these days I’m realizing I need to take better care of myself.

  23. Lauren*

    Only the headquarters location gets massages. I’ve been awarded them like 3x, but I can’t gift them to someone else who works in that office. So annoying! Just like announcing cake in the break room via email for the Chicago office when I am in Boston.

  24. Sarah G*

    That’s so funny — I just had a “Soothe” massage at work today, which was my first-ever at-work massage, and it was awesome! Unfortunately the massages were only 6 min (I think I may have gotten a couple extra min), the massage therapist was very skilled. It was at this event at work that was kind of a staff appreciation event. Unfortunately it’s only once a year. But I do recommend the company based on today’s experience!

  25. #WearAllTheHats*

    Soothe is a good option. I’m an Ops Manager these days but also a licensed MT in Michigan. “Carrot” vs “stick” (benefits vs. punishment) wellness perks are so beneficial. I could go on about the workplace wellness investment being on average 1/3 (or really $1/$2.75) when talking employer dollars, but being an employer and an employee, it’s really the little stuff that makes you feel valued, health benefits aside! I like to contract independent therapists to come out as their take-home margin is usually better. But anything is really a quality investment in your team and a way to retain top talent. Coffee + wellness perks are big for us. We put in a Relaxation Room (was a storage closet — we went digital and saved almost 120 square feet of space) that can double as a massage or stretching space and it’s been huge in our junior level staff recruiting. Total cost? $105 for a chaise lounge and about $50 for everything else, rug, blanket, decor, etc. Such a minimal investment for maximum output.

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