The coronavirus pandemic has drastically impacted our daily lives in many ways. As the world moves to slow down or completely stop the spread of the virus, local governments are advising communities to self-isolate. In other areas, sheltering at home is mandated. Most non-essential businesses are closed, and the companies that are able to continue working from a distance have transitioned their teams to work remotely from home.
For most employees asked to work from home, remote work requires a huge adjustment. Many employers are struggling with the changes as well. Remote work may be a new concept to both the employee and the employer and something neither has done before.
Companies need to adapt to accommodate the new working conditions. HR and benefits coordinators may need to work with management to redirect company resources to ensure employees are happy and well supported while working from home. A happy employee is a loyal one. It’s all a learning curve as the world enters the largest work-from-home experiment in history. Use this time to establish and reach new company goals. Here are some ways employee benefits can be adapted to the new remote-work normal.
Redirecting current employee benefits
Some of the most popular employee benefits of the past don’t offer any benefit at this time. Company perks such as gym memberships, dry cleaning, paid travel, catered free lunches in the lunchroom, and company-provided child care are on pause. Businesses can take this time to redirect the funding that went towards the previous employee benefits and adapt them for remote-work related benefits that can assist their employees who are working from home.
Some benefits work-from-home employees can use right now include the following:
- Faster and more reliable internet
- More flexible work hours
- Prepaid subscriptions for home workout or meditation podcasts or streaming channels
- A subscription to a telemedicine plan
Take a closer look at how your company could implement these suggested remote work benefits into your current operations.
Faster and more Reliable internet
The most vital aspect of remote work is a good and reliable internet connection. If most of an employee’s work will be done online, having a high-speed internet connection is essential. Meeting and video conferences can take a lot of bandwidth, and if the home service is not up to par, video or audio quality can be poor or even lag, which will cause interruptions.
Many people have a fairly basic home internet plan. In most cases, their data is capped to a certain amount. If an employee is online for six to eight hours per day and on video calls regularly, their internet service provider may shut their internet down for the month for going over the agreed data cap. Upgrading employees’ home internet service to fiber optics and/or a plan with unlimited data ensures your remote team can continue working. Paying the difference may be nominal, but it is a good investment towards productivity.
More flexible work hours
Employees aren’t the only ones home right now. Their kids are too. Working from home with kids makes it difficult to work without distractions. The situation can even become stressful if the employee is facing stress and pressure from management or other team members to perform as if they were in the office.
Employers should consider providing more flexible work hours with longer break allowances so employees can stop and attend to their kids. It requires trust from HR and management to allow their employees to direct their own working hours without micromanaging them, but it may be the key to ensuring that the remote work experience is successful. Time tracking software may be necessary to keep your remote team on track. Six to eight hours of work may take 12 hours to complete, but the allowance may be less stressful for employees with families at home.
Promoting health and wellness in the workplace is essential for the overall productivity of the team. Your employees may need the same level of support while they work from home. They may not be able to make use of the company gym membership, but HR may be able to pause gym subscriptions at this time and use the funds to pay for home workout or meditation podcasts, apps, or streaming channels.
Employers should consider paying for apps and subscriptions for their employees. Companies such as Crunch Live, Nike Training Club, Daily Yoga, Headspace, and Asana Rebel are just a few to consider. Paying for such apps or subscriptions can allow their team to take care of their well-being from home.
Telemedicine as a medical alternative
Healthcare is also going through transitions at this time, as an employee may not be able to visit a doctor due to the health crisis from the COVID-19 outbreak. HR should consult with the company’s health insurance provider to explore what alternatives the provider may be offering the company. Telemedicine may be the best healthcare option for non-emergency care, like regular therapy sessions or checking in with an eye doctor. Through telemedicine, an employee can consult with a doctor or healthcare professional via a video chat as a faster and safer alternative to the doctor’s visit.
Benefits for remote workers
The suggestions above are just a few ways companies can work with their HR departments to provide support to their remote workers. The sky’s the limit since the concept of working from home is relatively new. You may want to deliver free pizzas to staff on Fridays or pay for their UberEats subscriptions. Whatever actions your company decides to take, it’s likely your employees will thank you for making the effort.