Remote work isn’t a new trend, but it has become more common over the past several months. In a recent HR Gartner survey, 88% of organisations have adopted working from home as part of their coronavirus response plan1.
Although working remotely has its perks—namely an easy commute and a relaxed dress code—it can also lead to employees feeling disconnected and less effective at their job, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’ll show you why supporting employees who work from home is crucial to your company’s survival and long-term success. Revitalising your benefits program and introducing new perks can help improve employee productivity, drive company loyalty, and reduce burnout in times of stress and uncertainty.
Remote work is here to stay, so keep your talent and attract new talent with benefits that support the new home office setups. When you’re rethinking your work-from-home policies, consider offering these 7 benefits to help boost morale.
1. Home office upgrades
Instead of encouraging employees to work from their kitchen counters or couches, help them upgrade their home office.
Consider giving employees a stipend to put toward furniture, tech, or tools that improve their concentration or comfort. Beyond fast wifi and phone or video chat software, some employees may want to purchase an ergonomic desk chair or standing desk, while others may want to invest in a second monitor or printer.
Having a comfortable, quiet workstation can help employees stay engaged and accomplish more during the workday.
2. Employee wellness resources
Supporting remote employees’ health is an investment in your company’s success. 79% percent of employees surveyed said they regularly experience work-related stress,2 and 67% of employees said they’re feeling more stressed now than before the pandemic.3
As a business, you can help employees improve their mental and physical well-being by offering better health benefits. At the top of the list should be comprehensive mental health coverage, followed by health and wellness stipends employees can use on fitness classes, home workout equipment, nutrition courses, or out-of-pocket treatments like acupuncture and massages.
You may also want to offer free telehealth counselling, create employee assistance programs (EAPs), or give employees access to a health savings account.
3. Meal allowance
Most employees have access to a kitchen when they’re working from home, but that doesn’t mean they have the energy or ingredients to whip up a meal in the middle of the workday.
You can offer employees a weekly meal allowance so they can order directly from Uber Eats, or you can create a meal program with set spending limits using Uber for Business. Employees can order their favourite lunches, late-night dinners, or breakfasts from over 22,000 restaurant partners in Australia and New Zealand.
A meal plan doesn’t just help employees save money on groceries; it can also save them time, freeing them up to get ahead on their to-do list or to spend more time with their family.
4. Work around their hours
A flexible work schedule is key to employee satisfaction. In fact, 72% of workers said a flexible schedule is their second-most-desired work option behind full-time remote work.3
Instead of requiring employees to be online during set hours, give them the freedom to work when it’s most convenient for them. For some employees, a flexible schedule might mean starting the day at 6am and finishing in the afternoon, while others might wait until noon to begin work.
To prevent project delays and miscommunications, try designating a 1- to 2-hour period each day as mandatory online time. Employees can reserve team meetings and phone calls for those hours, then spend the rest of the workday moving at their own pace.
5. Social activities
Without the ability to chat by the coffee machine or eat lunch with co-workers, remote employees may feel more isolated working from home. But your company can encourage safe socializing by offering employees an allowance for social activities.
Employees could use their money to check out the latest movie release for an at-home family movie night or spend the money on a new video game to play with co-workers during happy hour.
6. Child care or family assistance
Remote employees may be able to spend more time with their family when working from home, but many still need help. In fact, 69% of employees said they would appreciate access to subsidised care for their family.3
Providing child care, pet care, or family assistance is a great way to ease employee stress and improve productivity. Depending on their needs, employees could put a monthly stipend toward a daycare centre, nanny, pet care worker, or in-home healthcare worker.
7. Learning and development
Without networking or social events in an office, remote employees may have fewer opportunities for personal and professional development.
But your company can fill the gap by offering remote workers a monthly learning and development allowance. You can suggest specific online courses or give employees the freedom to choose.
Depending on your employees’ interests and goals, they may want to study a new language, learn how to code, take music lessons, or practice their public speaking skills. Online learning platforms like MasterClass and Skillshare—which have classes on everything from animation to sales—are a great way for employees to pursue their passions in and out of work.
If your company has remote employees, it may be time to reevaluate your benefits program. Offering benefits that help remote workers feel supported and engaged can boost employee happiness and raise retention rates.
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1Gartner HR Survey March 19, 2020 , 2020
2Perkbox 2020 UK workplace stress survey
3MetLife US Employee Benefit Trends Study 2020
4FlexJobs Super Survey on flexible work 2019