Do you see that? It’s the faint glow of the light at the end of the tunnel! As we move ever closer to a post-pandemic world, many people and companies will decide which changes — including a shift to more remote work — to keep around.
Remote workers save companies major money, and employees have long viewed the option to log in from home, a coworking space, or a coffee shop as a big bonus. In fact, a survey from May 2020 showed that 35 percent of people who were forced to work from home during the pandemic want to continue doing so full-time, with more than three-quarters saying they’d like to work from home at least a couple days a week. However, while the ability to work remotely was once a notable differentiator, employers need to work harder to retain that top talent now that it’s not such a novel offering. The remote work field has become a lot more competitive since early 2020, and that’s not changing any time soon. Sought-after talent will likely expect to have their choice as to whether they work in an office, from home, or take a hybrid approach.
So what can employers do to convince their top-tier remote workers to stick around? Allocate some of the cost savings of a remote or hybrid office toward some compelling perks.
How Remote Work Saves Money
When it comes to how much money employers stand to save with remote employees, we’re not just talking about a few spare coins here and there. On an annual basis, a company with employees who work remotely 50 percent of the time can save between $10,400 and $13,200 per employee; with employees who work from home (or a remote office) full time, that amount jumps to between $20,000 and $37,000 per employee.
Wondering where those savings come from? It’s a long list that varies based on the company’s location, the types of perks they traditionally offer to employees working in the physical office, and more, but they typically include the following.
Rent and utilities
Have you ever thought about how much time a typical office sits empty? Worldwide, employees are away from their desks an estimated 50 to 60 percent of the time, which means that businesses pay rent and utilities on spaces that go unused for large chunks of time. Moving to a remote work or hybrid approach, which could allow companies to rent a much smaller office space, has the potential to save a great deal of money, especially in cities where every square foot of real estate costs a small (or not so small) fortune.
If you don’t have a physical office — or if employees spend less time in that space — you eliminate or reduce your cleaning costs.
While many businesses supply remote employees with some sort of equipment, whether a few basics or an allowance to use toward devices and equipment, it’s still likely to cost far less than outfitting an entire office for every employee all year long. Some companies may want to consider switching to a bring your own device (BYOD) model, even for employees who work onsite. A Cisco study found that 89 percent of businesses already allow BYOD, an option which has the potential for significant cost savings as well as an increase in productivity.
From coffee and bagels to snacks and lunch, feeding every employee can get pricey, and when they work from home, you eliminate that expectation. Remote employees have their own fridge, after all!
Some local jurisdictions impose local taxes on business entities, even on unincorporated businesses including sole proprietorships and LLCs. If any of your employees reside outside of such jurisdictions, you are not required to pay those taxes on that work, which can lead to substantial savings.
It’s not unusual for a company to offer transportation and commuter benefits to their employees; in fact, some cities — including New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. —require certain transportation benefits by law. But if employees aren’t commuting to the office, they no longer need commuter benefits.
Shifting to remote work may reduce the need to offer bonus perks like an office fitness center, hair services, or zen/recharge rooms. However, if your company offers other common perks that exist outside of the office building such as child or pet care, therapy services, or support toward fitness goals, it’s in your best interest to continue to offer them to remote employees.
Other cost savings
Studies show that employees who work from home, at least some of the time, tend to work without a loss of productivity (and in some cases, are even more productive) compared to their in-office counterparts.
How to Boost Remote Employee Satisfaction
It’s one thing to no longer offer certain in-office perks to new hires if your company has moved to a remote model. However, if the bulk of your employees once had access to a variety of perks at the office, it’s important to consider what you should offer to them as remote workers to make up for that loss. And that brings us to another important point. If your company saves loads of money because employees work from home — and you want to make sure they attract and retain top talent —thoughtful perks can demonstrate just how much you value team members.
Fortunately, there’s no lack of options when it comes to sweetening the pot for remote workers.
Remote office setup stipend
When workers shift to a permanent work-from-home situation, help set them up for success — literally — with a stipend to cover a desk, ergonomic chair, external keyboard and mouse, headphones, printer, etc. Consider offering a monthly or quarterly stipend, too, to cover paper, printer ink, pens, sticky notes, and other office supplies your employees may need. Just because employees do not work from a physical office doesn’t mean they don’t need those supplies, and they’ll appreciate not having to pay for it all out of their own pockets.
Monthly internet coverage
Perhaps just as important as the equipment and supplies mentioned above? Internet. After all, if your employees log in from home, a strong, fast, and reliable internet connection isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity and will benefit everyone in the long run.
Mental health, health, and fitness stipends and wellness programs
Research shows mental and physical wellness play an important role in productivity, so it benefits everyone to offer perks that help workers feel good, right? Consider offering a stipend for home workout equipment or a gym membership to help keep employees fit and moving and make mental health a top priority with access to free therapy. Offering subscriptions or memberships to various fitness and mental health apps can provide your employees access to workouts, meditations, therapists, and more in an easy way, wherever they’re located.
Coffee and food subscriptions and/or stipends
Sure, you could offer your employees a few bucks to cover their morning joe and home office snacks, but you can make this perk extra special, too. You could provide a coffee or food subscription that ensures a delicious treat arrives on everyone’s doorstep each month, or if you’re looking for a way to create some social connections as well, look into a Ten Spot food or coffee class.
Monthly home cleaning service
Nobody likes working in a cluttered, dusty environment, but when employees work from home, balancing work with household duties like cleaning can be tricky. Offering a stipend or subscription for a monthly cleaning service can reduce the distraction of a messy environment and help employees better focus on work.
Full-time parenting and working from home can be an impossible feat. A stipend that can be used toward sitters, daycare, or after-school activities will make employees’ workdays a little less stressful and likely help them stay focused and productive at their desks.
Budgeting some money for team members and their families to spend on entertainment including books, streaming services, and games can go a long way when it comes to employee satisfaction.
A coworking space membership
For some people, working from a home office works just fine. But for other remote workers, logging in alone from home can be a nightmare, which makes a membership or stipend toward a coworking space a huge plus.
Encourage your employees to continue growing within their field by offering an allowance toward seminars, classes, and conferences. Learning new skills can positively impact employees and your company.
Virtual team-building events during company time
Keeping remote teams feeling connected and collaborative can be a challenge when they can’t gather around a water cooler or chitchat in the break room. Additionally, employees who have been onboarded remotely may feel quite disconnected from their coworkers. Devoting a couple hours here and there to a fun, virtual team-building opportunity is well worth the investment. Try anything from cooking and workout classes to virtual scavenger hunts and travel trips.
Monthly/quarterly budget to book collaborative spaces for team-wide meet ups
If your team includes employees who live locally but work remotely, consider reserving a space for the day on a regular basis to help everyone remain connected. Whether you hold meetings on these days, make it more of a social occasion, or find your own mix, offering a chance for some in-person, face-to-face time can encourage authentic, strong bonds.
Sure, you can save a lot of money switching to a remote or hybrid work model. But if you want to keep your company on the cutting edge by attracting and retaining top talent, it’s vital that you invest some of those savings into perks for those remote employees. From food to fitness to fun games and more, you can show your remote workers how much you value them. Don’t be afraid to get creative — and be sure to ask for suggestions and feedback on which perks rank at the top of your team’s list!