How to reward your team: on a budget



'Inexpensive' in London can still be tricky to steer on the cheap side of ‘uhoh’. If you’re under pressure to create something fun for your staff that’s also easy on your budget, the best way is often to start out with free things. Then add a few extras into make the experience more thoughtful. Whether that’s a trip to the V&A’s Friday Late nights and offering to cover transport home, or buying everyone a round of hot chocolates after ice skating. These activities are all under £15 a head, but no-one else needs to know you’re watching the pennies.


1. Grab a free classical music concert at lunchtime

Make those 60 minutes count and give your team a proper break from those spreadsheets with a free classical music concert at lunch. St Martin in the Fields regularly hold free performances- their next one is this Friday, starting at 1pm. Southbank Centre also host free shows every Friday at 1pm and 5.30pm in their foyer spaces. Just check their calendar here.

Price: Free, but suggested donation of £3.50 at St Martin in the Fields

Location: St Martin the Fields, Westminster


2. Go on an architecture tour of The Barbican

Okay, this one’s a little over a tenner, but it’s well worth it for learning all the secrets behind the architectural project Londoners love to hate. The Barbican is the largest performing arts centre of its kind in Europe, home to theatres, cinemas, libraries, restaurants and a conservatory. Yet many people are quick to dismiss the Grade II building due to its Brutalist appearance. Led by a super-experienced guide, this tour is great way to get to know a slice of London more than skin-deep, and will give your team a different perspective to London that’s often overlooked.

Price: £12.50

Location: The Barbican



Photo credit to Lee Mawdsley

3. Take the aperitif

Instead of trying to arrange drinks after work around everyone’s hectic social schedules, finish Thursday an hour early and organise aperitifs in the office. Task your team with showing how their family or homeland take the aperitif. Then take it in turns each week to transform a corner of the office into their own pop-up bar. Give them a £50 budget to make a cocktail recipe for everyone to try, plus a few traditional snacks to go alongside. Everyone has something to say about Aperol vs Schnapps, Campari, tequila or a good Old Fashioned, and each host can take the theme as far as they like. This is a great way to get to know quieter members of staff beyond kitchen sink small talk, whilst avoiding the blur-ily paid bar tab and numerous taxi rides home.

Price: £50

Location: Your very own in-office pop-up bar!


4. Attend a literary salon with a couple of familiar faces

Counting John Waters, Helen Fielding and Caitlin Moran in its alumni, Damian Barr’s Literary Salon is one of the hottest tickets in town, and also happens to be entirely gratis. You’ll just need to be quick, as these nights often get booked up within 24 hours. Previous evenings have teamed complimentary Hendricks gin and tonics with Pizza East deliveries to Shoreditch House as some of the most exciting literary minds of our generation share new drafts, anecdotes from their career or stories that didn’t make it to print. Barr always supplies wonderfully catty commentary, and you’ll enjoy matching some familiar faces in the crowd to household names.

Price: Free

Location and dates: You’ll need to be quick off the mark, so follow the Literary Salon on Facebook to keep up!


5. Give your star employee the afternoon off and a head massage at Cowshed

When there’s someone on the team that deserves a break, you might need to make sure they actually take that afternoon off you’re always offering them. Bag them a head massage voucher at Cowshed, and insist they turn their out of office on, if only for a few hours. The Cowshed head massage is £45 for an hour, or they could spend the voucher on a full body massage. As the treatments relieve tension and combat stress, it’s money well spent on your star player.

Price: Treatments begin at £45

Location: Primrose Hill



City Pantry also recommends looking at the range of foodie treats on offer on our site. Has your team hit its targets? A fun and tasty treat could be Kute Cupcakes that we have new on our site. They have gone down a storm and been described by more than one of our team as 'the best cupcakes I've tried in London.'