A study done by Stanford reveals 42% of the U.S. workforce is engaged in some remote work (1).
People are spending exceedingly more time out of the office and working from home. This flexible landscape has allowed employees to thrive in many ways, but it has also created unprecedented challenges.
In addition to longer workdays with less structure, being consistently out of the office prevents remote workers from accessing many of the sought-after perks a traditional workplace provides.
To ensure that all team members feel valued and supported regardless of where they work, we all must creatively reimagine the typical benefits of being in an office to accommodate hybrid and fully remote employees.
Health and wellness
The top-ranked, most desirable employee benefit is health insurance (2). For many smaller companies with remote employees spread over potentially expansive geographic regions, offering and managing traditional health insurance policies can be next to impossible. Yet providing support for health and wellness is a major force in competitive hiring and employee retention (3). Some hybrid companies have found inventive ways to show a commitment to the well-being of their employees, including:
- Contributing stipends for subsidized insurance plans
- Offering online classes or gym memberships
- Gifting workout gear, and
- Purchasing health tracking apps
Whatever the approach, finding ways to extend a health-focused hand to those out of the office is crucial for effective remote team management.
An effective office space equips employees with the technical tools they need to excel in their work.
The positive benefits of providing quality equipment regarding productivity and business expansion are proven (4).
Many companies offer workstation upgrades for their hybrid employees to compensate for the comfort and utility an office provides. Last year, Shopify and Twitter each gave many of their remote employees $1000 to outfit their home workstations (5).
This type of allocation for practical tools can take many forms. While some companies give stipends and allowances, others send gifts like ergonomic office chairs and espresso makers.
The advantages of an office don't just extend to its furnishings. In many productive workplaces, cleaning crews and professional maintenance teams come in to keep things tidy and functional so that employees can focus on the task at hand. For remote workers putting in long hours at home, doing daily chores around the house, and conducting their own technical upkeep can be arduous.
While providing services like meal delivery and home cleaning are beneficial, childcare is one of the most demanding challenges for remote employees.
As of last year, only 30% of employers have a system of assisting working parents with childcare (6). Recognizing and supporting the needs of remote employees with children could be the next evolution of ensuring hybrid employees have the out-of-office space they need to stay focused.
Taking breaks throughout the workday is a scientifically backed way of improving concentration and productivity (7).
Of course, in the office, stepping away from your desk and heading to a break area is a simple way to recenter and increase performance. When working from home, this can become a more complicated endeavor both physically and psychologically.
The digital equivalent to a break room can be achieved by streaming services. If you can't grab a donut or coffee on the way back to your desk, at least you can tune into a music streaming service or a motivational podcast as you turn on your laptop. A simple respite from work routines and time on a computer can make all the difference for someone working remotely.
There are many ways for workplace leaders to keep their hybrid employees feeling supported from wherever they may clock in. While there are many direct equivalents from office to home, the most important thing you can do is be creative.
Innovation comes from problem-solving for your team's unique needs. Ultimately, the best remote office perks are the ones that make each employee feel valued in their own way.
- Stanford News. (June 2020). Stanford research provides a snapshot of a new working-from-home economy. https://news.stanford.edu/2020/06/29/snapshot-new-working-home-economy/
- HBR. (February 2017). The Most Desirable Employee Benefits. https://hbr.org/2017/02/the-most-desirable-employee-benefits
- G&S. (March 2020). Study: Americans Reach a Stressing Point. https://blog.gscommunications.com/coronavirus/new-study-americans-reach-a-stressing-point
- American Financial. (July 2020). 5 Advantages of Purchasing New Equipment for your Business. https://financewithafp.com/blog/2020/07/01/5-advantages-of-purchasing-new-equipment-for-your-business/
- CNBC. (June 2020). Working from home? You might be able to expense a new desk. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/03/companies-are-paying-for-their-workers-home-offices.html
- CNBC. (September 2020). Grappling with childcare while working from home? How employers plan to help. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/23/dealing-with-childcare-while-working-at-home-how-employers-will-help.html
- Science Daily. (February 2011). Brief diversions vastly improve focus, researchers find. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208131529.htm