Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, remote working saw a huge surge in popularity. This was partly due to the evolution of technology and the increasing need for global roles. Then, when the pandemic started, remote working became the norm for the vast majority of the corporate workforce. This change has induced a significant shift in the benefits that employers traditionally offer and thus, has shifted employee expectations.
There are, of course, some major benefits to this new way of working. Some of the most notable benefits are that less time is spent commuting, which enables greater productivity. In addition, working from any remote location adds additional flexibility. However, the remote working culture also has its challenges, one of which is changes to employee benefits.
Let’s take a look at how employee benefits may need to change to be more relevant in the age of remote working.
Firstly, let’s cover the trip to work. Now that people aren’t commuting, benefits like rail tickets, cycle to work schemes, and covering commuting costs, including car allowance, may be far less relevant. For a long time, these office perks were incredibly popular, including discounted lunches and drinks, office gym facilities, and other in-office benefits that will no longer be accessible or desirable to remote employees.
With the increase in remote and dynamic working, there is the inevitable potential for the eroding of company culture when a business population is geographically isolated. There needs to be an attempt to maintain these links through meeting for social or collaborative occasions, having online classes, or monthly/quarterly social events to maintain a strong bond and company culture in this new era of work.
There also needs to be a conscious change in culture to ensure people aren’t working longer hours than necessary. Working from home can blur the lines between work and personal life, which can sometimes be detrimental and cause burnout. The usual social cues associated with the workday, such as our commute, normally bookend our work day and serve as the marker to get into the work mindset and, most importantly, wind down from work.
With these removed, it is essential to ensure business populations look after their mental and physical wellbeing. One popular method of achieving this is through flexible hours, which enables employees to manage their time and create a work schedule that suits them and their personal needs. Another extremely important benefit in this day and age are subsidies or paid gym memberships and access to mindfulness or mental health resources. It’s also vital that the company actively promotes and has a positive view towards using these assets.
There is definitive evidence that productivity, engagement and wellbeing have increased with the transition to a 4 or 4.5-day work week. Increasing holiday allowance is a great way to boost engagement and stave off burnout. Unlimited holiday has seen an increase, but some warnings come with this. Research suggests that people take less holiday when it is unlimited. For welfare reasons, there needs to be a minimum number of days outlined if this is implemented.
Every company and employee will be different. There will need to be an open dialogue with your business populations to establish what benefits work best on an individual basis. However, some benefits have proven to be widely popular amongst remote employees.
Everyone needs a safe and productive work environment irrespective of location. With a completely remote business population, there is an occupational health burden to provide equipment to ensure a suitable working environment for employees at home. One option is to send occupational health advisors to people’s homes to assess their work setup. Companies can also provide equipment to make sure this burden of care is being upheld.
Strong healthcare has been cited as one of the most important benefits for employees. It must encompass both mental and physical care while also incentivising people to be active.
Offering to pay for online courses to further staff’s ability and aid in their career progression is a fantastic way to invest in your employees and, ultimately, the future of your business.
Employees have complex living situations, and when you throw in remote working to a family environment, it may be necessary to help with looking after children while your employees are working. Offering online child courses, childcare vouchers, or professional babysitters can be a great way to help your workforce. You can also add food deliveries to this, removing some of the parents’ mental burden. Ensuring employees can be productive and the family unit is well cared for is essential.
These benefits not only engage and retain existing employees but are also powerful attractors to potential recruits in an incredibly competitive and candidate lead market.