Flexible working and working from home have often been touted as the most desirable benefits for employees. Various surveys put them top of the list to attract and retain talent. But when working from home is as standard, what are some of the employee benefits for remote workers that organisations could offer?
While perks such as private healthcare, bonuses, childcare vouchers, and pension contributions won’t necessarily change, company cars, subsidised season tickets, and an onsite corporate gym may be more redundant.
A report from Reuters revealed the percentage of remote workers globally is expected to double in 2021. Data from Rescue Time showed an overall increase in productivity, with workers spending more time on the right work, and less time in meetings and chatting. With productivity levels increasing as more people work from home, it’s likely we’ll see a more permanent remote workforce and the types of employee benefits in demand are likely to shift.
So what could be attractive employee benefits for remote workers in this new world of work?
Training and Development
Opportunities for career progression are often ranked highly for employees and when working remotely, they remain crucial, particularly as workers can worry that being out of sight, can mean being out of mind for that promotion.
Organisations need to ensure they are able to provide the same level of training and development remotely to retain their top talent. If they can set up safe, socially-distanced, in-person or group training, this could be attractive for people who miss the social interaction and prefer to learn in ways other than via a screen.
A study by Class Pass showed 50% of corporate employees have seen increased workloads and higher levels of stress and burnout. This is likely to raise the importance of the corporate wellness packages employers offer to their workers.
The nature of corporate wellness may also need to change. With public and corporate gyms closed or seeing much-reduced footfall, organisations may want to look at offering other types of fitness benefits to remote workers.
Paying for subscriptions to online classes is an obvious option but also means they can offer more variety to their employees with so much now available online.
Allowing workers to select subscriptions for fitness programmes that suit them, from cardio through to yoga or pilates, may mean they are more likely to use the benefit, particularly if they weren’t previously gym-goers.
Another option would be to offer discounts or money towards home gym equipment. While some organisations might stump up towards a rowing machine, vouchers that could pay for some dumbbells or an exercise ball could be equally attractive.
Mental health provision
Within the wellness package, it will be increasingly important to look at mental health. Isolation and loneliness are common complaints among those who work from home. This study by Nuffield Health found that over 80% of remote workers feel it has negatively impacted their mental health.
Employee benefits for remote workers could include access to counsellors, advice, regular team social events (even if remote), and offering perks such as ‘remote fika‘ (loosely translated as a coffee and sharing something sweet with a friend). This would allow regular one-to-one or small group socialising and encourage and help facilitate the watercooler moments.
Food and drink
One of the employee perks offered by some organisations is free food and drink, something remote workers don’t get the benefit from. This could be an additional and fun way that organisations provide for their remote workforce. Vouchers for coffee subscriptions or healthy snacks, or discounts in local coffee shops could start to become more desirable employee benefits for remote workers.
Holiday benefits for remote workers
One of the commonly quoted stats about working from home is the tendency for employees to work longer hours. This data from Bloomberg reveals in the US, remote workers were logging on for an extra three hours per day during lockdown and the Rescue Time study showed that people were spending on average 58 more hours a year on their core work.
Work from home burnout is also becoming a growing concern, especially as it can be harder to switch off and set boundaries between work and home life.
This opens up the incentive for employers to offer longer holidays and extra leave as a benefit for their remote workers. It might also encourage some to offer a four-day week as a way to incentivise their staff and support their mental wellbeing.
Bills and expenses
If businesses are no longer having to fund fuel costs for company cars or other commuting expenses, it is a good opportunity to look at how they could reinvest this money into other expenses that remote workers incur.
Providing bulk discounts for energy bills, broadband, or even subsidies for better insulation or renewable energy sources could help to cut employee energy bills. It is also a way that businesses can reduce their carbon footprint and help their remote teams become more sustainable when working from home if they encourage their staff to sign up with green energy providers.
For remote workers in poor broadband areas, providing them with boosters or mobile wifi devices could be an attractive perk.
Home Office Equipment
Kitting out a home office is no cheap feat. If you’re suddenly finding yourself having to work from home for the first time, just the basics of a desk, chair, and any monitors or tech required can be a considerable expense.
Employers will need to ensure their remote workforce are adequately provided for but as an extra employee benefit for remote workers, they could provide money towards a better ergonomic chair, or items such as a standing desk.
Money towards co-working
Working at home is not an ideal scenario for everybody, and even those with a productive home office setup. Being able to work out of the four walls of home can offer a different perspective and help to combat isolation and loneliness.
Coworking gives employees a chance to connect with others, including other colleagues. Coworking venues can provide a sense of community and allow workers to make use of the facilities, which they may be lacking at home.
A popular and affordable benefit for companies to offer is corporate or professional subscriptions. Online subscriptions could be a great way to provide remote employers with a way to feel more motivated and engaged.
When we are no longer in the office, employees won’t have access to the hard copies of publications often available. Corporate subscriptions can give them access to these publications and provide something enjoyable and relevant to read.