Despite having been around for a while now, the popularity of remote work quickly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working from home not only allowed employers to potentially save on future costs and manage the challenges brought about by the pandemic, but also offered their employees flexibility and autonomy.
Some employees work from home primarily because they live too far from the office to commute, possibly in another state entirely. Others just prefer to work at home. This makes some employers uncomfortable, because they believe if they can see the employee working, they’re working, and productively. And if they can’t, they just aren’t sure.
If it’s possible to shift from tracking how many hours a person works to what that employee is producing (whether it’s sales figures, number of tasks completed, or something else), that should allay that concern.
If employees get the job done, employers shouldn’t care about from where they are doing it. And if it makes a valued employee happier and less likely to leave the company, so much the better.
Here are some reasons to embrace allowing employees to work from home.
- Some employees will be more productive working at home, without office distractions.
- Some will feel valued and honored by letting them work where they feel more comfortable.
- New mothers and fathers, for whom coming into the office would cause a huge hurdle.
- New employees who you want to hire because you like their expertise/value or something else, who are not going to relocate to where your business is.
However, the shift to remote work has also sparked questions on whether continuing remote staff should receive the same employee benefits as more companies fully embrace remote work. (And possibly should the compensation package remain the same, which is another article unto itself.) The lack of traditional benefits and perks for remote employees coupled with the unique needs and challenges of remote work, may mean employers need to find a balance in their offerings if they want to attract and keep top talent.
But, if your company views remote employees as an opportunity, or your employees are practically demanding to continue remote employment, inferring that they may look elsewhere if not, you might want to rethink your strategies proactively.
Why You Should Consider Offering Remote Staff Unique Benefits
Some employers may believe that working remotely is a perk in unto itself that negates the need to offer the employees other benefits. However, offering remote staff employee benefits comes with advantages that make it a worthwhile consideration and helps you stay competitive.
Let’s face it, most employees would prefer a company that offers perks over one that doesn’t. This also boosts employee morale as you make them feel valued, which in turn increases employee productivity and overall revenue for the company.
Since remote work comes with isolation from colleagues, offering remote staff certain unique employee benefits counteracts the feelings that can come with missing out on in-office interactions and activities. This contributes to employee wellness and health in the long term.
One of the most significant benefits of offering remote staff employee benefits is reducing turnover. By providing thoughtful benefit packages, you boost your remote employees’ job satisfaction, encouraging them to stay with you longer. In this case, you lower your recruitment costs and enjoy the perks of working with a well-trained team.
Benefits to Consider Offering Remote Staff
Generally, your remote staff should receive the same employee benefits without counting remote work as an advantage. That said, the benefits you offer remote workers should mirror your company culture, meet their needs, and be in line with your budget. Below are offerings you can include in your remote staff benefits package.
- Flexible work hours and paid time off. Doing so provides better work-life balance and prevents burnout.
- Wellness programs to promote a healthy lifestyle. This can include stipends for gym memberships and exercise classes as well as counseling and therapy sessions.
- Home office support: Provide remote workers with the necessary technology and resources to set up a home office. This includes reimbursement for a computer and work-related expenses such as internet connectivity charges, maintenance fees and more.
- Coworking office rent. Some companies will pay the rent of a coworking office space so that remote workers do not have to work out of their homes every day. This might also include paying commuter travel fees.
- Learning and professional development: Provide avenues and opportunities for the employee professional development to promote career growth. You can also offer a learning stipend for career-related training.
- Parental leave and childcare benefits. Some companies provide professional care giving services to cater to parents who have to juggle between working from home and caring for the kids in the same environment.
- Home delivery subscriptions: For employers who provide in-office coffee or meals, you can include home delivery subscriptions for remote workers to blend the office culture with the remote environment.
- Variable pay. Some companies adjust pay based on the cost of living where you reside. For example, employees in Tier 1 cities like Manhattan would earn more because it costs them more to live there.
As feeling a sense of connection to others in the company is critical to employee retention, some companies also provide ways to stay connected. For example, they might do a regular online get-together where employees assemble and talk about non-work-related things, such as hobbies.
One company we interviewed randomly pairs together two remote employees (or one remote employee and one non-remote employee) for 30-minute online chats called “Virtual Coffees.” They also offer reimbursement up to $15 for lunch once a week. And they try to get all their employees together once a year at an offsite event, with plenty of opportunities for mingling.
Another provides a $40 stipend per person when any three or more employees (at least one of them virtual) get together for dinner or drinks. They also offer a $75 quarterly entertainment bonus to attend concerts, shows and the like.
It is important for remote employees to receive employee benefits. However, the type of benefits may vary depending on the type of work, individual employee needs, budget, and company culture. By striking the right balance, you can adequately support your remote staff and make them feel valued, which ultimately boosts their job satisfaction and contributes to overall company success.