Top 10 Remote Employee Perks & Resources
Remote work during a pandemic is an unprecedented situation. As employers extend their work from home plans through the end of 2020 (or beyond), HR teams are seeking ways to support their new remote workforce above and beyond health care, EAPs, and 401(k)s.
According to the 2020 Impact of Behavioral Drives in a Remote Workplace report issued by the Predictive Index, 33% of employees hadn’t worked remotely before COVID-19. And, many of us are still trying to find our groove.
There may be more than one adult working from home (at my house, the kitchen table was put into storage so that space could become an office), young children to attend to, internet connectivity issues, or competing bandwidth needs.
Here are the top WFH perks, benefits, and resources to help your people acclimate:
- Flexible hours
- Workspace Setup Reimbursement
- Physical Wellness
- Financial Wellness
- Professional Development
- Meals & Snacks
- Charitable Donation Matching
- Homework Help & Support for Parents
- Perk Software
1. Flexible hours
When possible, allowing employees to shift their hours from the standard “core” work hours can go a long way towards balancing the new work/life demands.
2. Workspace Setup Reimbursement
[Legal alert: note that California and several other states have enacted reimbursement laws to prevent or limit employers from passing on their operating expenses to employees].
Furniture and Accessories
Consider reimbursing employees for technology and office accessories that help them work from home more comfortably and productively. Desks, chairs, monitors, noise-canceling headsets, webcams…
GitLab’s guidelines on Spending Company Money may be a helpful benchmarking resource. They’ve been all-remote for years, and their 2020 Remote Playbook is the most comprehensive guide I’ve come across.
If your budget is small, you could allow employees to take home desks, chairs, monitors, etc. from the office. Be clear if you expect these returned when the office reopens, and track via a check-out sheet.
Consider covering any additional internet plan extensions needed to support remote work.
With the shift to remote work, your home is now also your office, making cybersecurity a must-have both personally and professionally. But when it comes to protecting our remote workforce, there's a tension between the need for security and the need for privacy in our personal worlds. People don’t want their employer to monitor what they do or where they web-browse on their personal time or on their personal devices.
Rubica is advanced security that can be used for personal and business. It’s comprehensive threat protection for your company that’s easy to use, protects personal browsing, and is compatible with how people use their devices and engage with their digital world.
Here are some free ergonomics resources to share with your people:
- Self-assessment tool | Comfortable Computing Initiative
- 3-min video: Ergonomics Expert Explains How to Set Up Your Desk | WSJ
- Considerations for a Productive Home Office or Remote Workspace | GitLab
- Ergonomics Recommendations for Remote Work | EHS Today
- Easy Ergonomics for Desktop Computer Users (pdf) | CalOsha
Online Collaboration Tools
3. Physical Wellness
There are also free take-a-break apps like Time Out or Stretchly to encourage healthy remote work habits. Also, consider implementing meeting-free blocks of time on everyone’s calendar, so everyone has a chance to unplug and recharge.
Group rates are available for MasterClass. There are more than 85 expert-led courses in multiple categories (music, culinary arts, business, film, writing, sports & games, design/photography & fashion, lifestyle, and science & technology).
While fostering connection is important for all employees, keep new hires in mind, too. Provide opportunities to meet casually. GitLab formalizes informal communication for its all-remote team since it cannot happen organically in the office.
The Donut Slack app randomly pairs individuals from that channel on a consistent basis (you can choose weekly, bi-weekly, etc) or you can schedule virtual online happy hours or game hours that are optional to attend. At Lumity, we have happy hour Thursdays.
- Kahoot! is a trivia game for e-learning, interactive presentations, and training. It can also be repurposed for new hires.
- Brainstormer is a fun, pub-like trivia game moderated by a professional host. It’s corporate-friendly and ideal for groups of 20 - 200+ people.
- Trivial Dispute (based in NY) is reasonably priced and can accommodate customized themes. It’s hosted over Zoom, and teams can be set up in Slack.
- AirBnB Online Experiences offers cooking classes with Michelin chefs (up to 10 people) and other learning opportunities.
- JigsawPuzzles.io is free and makes it easy to start a puzzle and invite team members.
5. Financial Wellness
For free financial education in layperson language, I regularly share and read the 20 Something Finance blog.
6. Professional Development
7. Meals & Snacks
8. Charitable Donation Matching
A passion for a cause can reignite our professional passion as well.
9. Homework Help & Support for Parents
Homework Help for Kids & Teens
These education-as-a-benefit vendors provide homework help!
Some free resources to share with your people:
- Free Math Help
- Quarantunes provides online music lessons for kids (ages 4 - 14). Lessons are free although donations are welcome.
- Quarantunes also offers art classes (ages 9 - 14)
- Explore.org has live wildlife cams! (an idea for virtual field trips)
- Scholastic offers lessons for four age groups: pre-K and kindergarten, grades 1 & 2, grades 3 & 5, and grades 6+.
- PBS Kids Daily Newsletter provides ideas for learning activities at home.
- Circletime educators host free, interactive videos in their areas of expertise (ages 0 - 8).
Support for Parents
- Cleo is a family benefits platform with a network of local guides supporting families in 55 countries.
- kunik "COVID Care" family-support solution (practical tools and emotional support caregivers need to juggle work, family, and home).
- Care.com offers backup childcare (including in-home backup childcare!)
10. Perk Software
Here are a few vendors to ease the administration of stipends and allowances:
- Compt enables employers to develop multiple stipends, and employees can choose what perks best meet their needs.
- ThrivePass offers a marketplace for health & well-being stipends
- Zestful provides a debit card for perks and vendor marketplace. You set the guidelines and balances
Keep reminding your remote people that their health and families come first. We’re all adjusting to the new way of working, and HR teams and people pros are at the forefront, leading and iterating as we move forward. (Remember to practice the same self-care you’re providing to your people)...
And, if my list has left you wondering how you’ll find funds for investing in your people—during a pandemic when companies are looking to stabilize cash flow—I encourage you to look at your health plan. Even in a year of COVID-19, it’s possible to reduce health care costs by 15-20% without compromising coverage.