Rethinking Perks for Remote Workers

Rewarding remote employees is important — even if they work off-site. Here are perks you can offer them that fit your budget and show you value their contributions.

rethinking-perks-for-remote-workers
Employee perk ideas for your remote teams — from food deliveries to wellness programs to at-home workspaces

The COVID-19 outbreak has shifted the way we work and from where. Some companies, plunged into allowing staffers to work remotely, found the arrangement works. Workers have been asking for flexibility in where they do their job for many years. The pandemic, for many, has illustrated that remote work is doable, productive, and a win-win for business and their staff.

Many companies, large and small, are realizing the benefits and offering staffers the option to continue working remotely. Some companies are allowing remote work for the remainder of the year, like Google and Facebook; others, like Twitter and Square, are allowing remote work indefinitely. That’s good news for workers and many companies will find it’s even better news for them.

What workers want 

A recent study found that remote workers are happier, are retained longer, and are more productive. It found that people who work remotely reported happiness on the job 22% more than those who work on-site. Their reasons:

  • Better work-life balance
  • Increased focus and productivity
  • Less stress
  • No commute

When it comes to loyalty, 13% more remote workers say they’re likely to stay on the job for the next 5 years than their counterparts. Remote workers in the study also say they work more than 40 hours per week 43% more than on-site workers do.

It may be time to rethink the perks you offer for existing (or future) remote staffers to assure their high productivity and loyalty remains with you and not the competition.
If remote workers are already happy, is there a reason to add perks to the mix? Absolutely: as more companies are appreciating the value of the remote work model, you’ll likely see competition for top-quality remote workers heat up. It may be time to rethink the perks you offer for existing (or future) remote staffers to assure their high productivity and loyalty remains with you and not the competition.

High-priced perks

Rethinking the perks you offer remote workers can be very costly or virtually (no pun intended) free. Depending on how heavy the competition is you could start with the equipment they use. Most remote workers have their own laptop, peripherals, and connections. A shiny new lappie might be a great offering. If you’re worried about their longevity on the job you can make it company-owned, therefore returnable when/if they leave your employ.

If they’re on their computer all day you could consider offering a desk or workspace. As we see so many remote workers on Zoom meetings trying to get things done on their kitchen or dining room table, an actual work area for their home might be more than a welcome perk. It might even help with organization and productivity. Moving all your work off the kitchen table at mealtimes must be a challenge. You could go high end — with a standing desk or adjustable height desktop to reduce repetitive stress injuries or make them more comfortable as well.

When it comes to tech, obviously you’ll provide all the software and access they’ll need. But you might consider a stipend that reimburses a portion of the bandwidth, phones, or other equipment they’re incurring from working at home.

Mid-range perks

If you normally provide wellness or other perks for staffers, like gym membership discounts or access to aromatherapy sessions, make sure to contract with national chains, if possible. This ensures no matter how far afield your remote workers are, they have equal opportunities to enjoy.

With remote learning on the rise, it should be no problem making sure off-site workers are involved in career growth and development.
The challenge for many employers is seeing their remote staffers move up the ladder. Resist being indifferent to their career aspirations. Your remote workers are just as ambitious as your onsite staff. Work with them as you would anyone. During evaluations and check-ins, ask about their career ambitions and come up with a game plan.

Training opportunities should be easily accessible. With remote learning on the rise, it should be no problem making sure off-site workers are involved in career growth and development.

Do you offer free coffee, lunch, or snacks to internal workers? You might consider monthly gift cards to make sure your remote teams are getting equal treatment. When you schedule lunch meetings, make sure to have sandwiches delivered to them on time for the session as well. If you let your employees bring their pets to work, consider offering to subsidize a dog walker for your work-from-home team members.

For some remote workers, the ability to work from home is the singular perk. For others, the ability to interact occasionally with colleagues may be a big plus. If your remotes work from opposite sides of the country, this may not be possible. But if you have teams who can connect occasionally in a coworking space, it might be a boost to them and their productivity.

Perks that cost little to nothing

Flexibility

One of the downsides of remote work is often a feeling of being disconnected from the group. Apart from mandatory meetings, remote workers may miss the camaraderie of the office. Having an office birthday celebration? Send a slice of cake to your remote workers and get them in on the fun through conferencing. Bringing in treats for the team to celebrate a success doesn’t have to exclude the off-site workers who contributed. You might even consider “remote appreciation days” that include lunches or events.

Flexibility is another perk you can offer your remote workforce. Do they really need to get the work done from 9 to 5? For remote workers with children off school, either due to the pandemic or because of holidays, can you allow them to get their work done off hours or on the weekends? If there isn’t time sensitivity, that extra flexibility can go a long way.

For some, getting the bulk of work done early mornings (maybe before the kids get up) is a great way to let them flex. For other workers, a longer lunch allows time to get chores done — or a later break lets them pick up kids from school. As they try to balance work and home, be as flexible as you can to make it work.

Remote workers are results-only staffers for some businesses. Some companies don’t care when or how the work is completed, as long as it’s on time. For those working off-site with personal obligations to meet, that can be a huge perk and a deal-maker.

For other workers, a longer lunch allows time to get chores done — or a later break lets them pick up kids from school. As they try to balance work and home, be as flexible as you can to make it work.

PTO

Just like on-site workers, remote employees are looking for PTO. Don’t neglect providing all the benefits to remote workers that you would to on-site staff, but it may be nice to add a bit to the mix occasionally. Do you have summer hours for on-site workers? Occasionally let people leave early on Fridays? Make sure to include remote teams in all these bonus perks.

Perk credits

For perks you can’t replicate off-site, like discounts at the donut shop in the lobby, or dry-cleaning services, consider offering remote workers “perk credits” in exchange. You can let them redeem credits for cash, time off, or let them use equal amounts at their local establishments.

Supporting local causes

If on-site teams routinely volunteer in the community or support local causes, you could consider providing these kinds of opportunities or support to remote workers who are further away. Ask if they have favorite local charities or groups you can help support on their behalf.

One of the most important perks to offer off-site staff members is inclusion. They may be working remotely, but they’re still critical members of the team. Remember to invite them to all necessary meetings, but to events as well. Even if you can’t afford to fly them to HQ for the annual picnic or holiday party, make sure to send a thoughtful gift that shows you remember them and value their contribution.

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