Since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world economy in early 2020, many office employees have been working from home. With that shift, many traditional employee perks (such as social events, free lunches and on-site childcare) no longer make sense. To attract top-tier talent in competitive fields where talent remains scarce, such as tech, employers are getting creative and thinking outside the box about the unique perks they can offer to talent to set their organization apart. Here are 7, out-of-the-box perks you can offer while working remotely.
1. a home-office budget
Some companies have already jumped on offering this perk to help employees build productive home workspaces. For example, Shopify recently made news for offering employees a $1000 budget to create a remote set up. When the COVID-19 pandemic spread to North America in mid-March many employees were asked to work from home quite suddenly. That meant a lot of workers were setting up workspaces where they could. Kitchen tables and living room couches became makeshift workspaces. Offering employees a small budget to create a productive workspace and purchase necessities such as a desk, ergonomic chair, and other work-from-home staples, can go a long way to make remote work more accessible and comfortable.
2. food delivery and meal kits
After a long day of working from home, cooking meals can be an extra chore. Some companies have started giving remote employees the option to sign up for a meal kit plan as an extra perk to replace catered meetings and other perks they’d typically have access to in the office. If setting up meal kit delivery for employees isn’t realistic for your organization, you can start with smaller food-centric perks, such as setting up food delivery via apps like DoorDash or SkipTheDishes for long meetings or weekly team lunches.
3. free tech gadgets
Working from home effectively requires some basic tech. At minimum, employees need a computer. While working off a laptop may help them get through in a pinch, it’s not the ideal set up for a long-term remote work setup. Some organizations are going above and beyond to make sure that employees have all the tech they need to build an optimal work-from-home space. With monitors, keyboards, webcams, headphones, and other gadgets, creating the perfect remote work set up can get pricey. If your organization has partnerships with tech providers, you can leverage those to make sure that your employees have all the tech they need to make the most of their workday. Everyone loves free stuff.
4. internet and phone plans
Paying for cell phone plans has become a relatively common perk. However, with employees working from home full-time, paying for home Internet is a newer twist on this established perk. Anyone who’s working from home will tell you a solid internet connection is a must, especially for those long video meetings! In tech-driven fields where a lot of bandwidth is needed, Internet is more than just a perk, it’s a necessity and it can get expensive. Offering full or partial reimbursement for Internet expenses can quickly add up and be a much-appreciated perk.
5. wellness memberships
With everyone staying home to practice physical distancing, workout routines have been disrupted. While it may not be advisable to head out to a gym or an in-person fitness class right now, there are plenty of digital fitness resources and subscriptions you can provide your employees to help them stay active and healthy while staying remote. From virtual class passes, to subscription video workouts, to fitness trackers, to yoga and mindfulness apps there are plenty of options to choose from. The pandemic has been stressful for everyone. Providing your employees with access to wellness outlets free-of-cost makes it clear their physical and mental health is a priority.
6. development opportunities
Offering opportunities for training and development shows that your organization cares about workers’ careers and nurturing their talent. And it’s a win-win since your organization benefits from employees’ expanded knowledge. With plenty of digital training and e-learning tools available, there are lots of ways you can offer career development to employees while they’re working remotely. For example, sites like Coursera and LinkedIn learning offer online courses on a variety of topics. While many courses are free, you can also offer employees a training and development budget to explore their own interests and skills in their field. With everyone staying inside and more free-time on their hands, it’s a perfect time to explore this perk.
7. digital social events
With everyone working remotely, socializing with colleagues has fallen to the wayside. Spending time chatting around the coffee machine or going out for a drink after work aren’t options. With those casual opportunities for socializing gone, employers are having to think more creatively about ways to build their team dynamic and ensure that all employee interactions aren’t work-centric. Create opportunities for employees to stay in touch and spend time together that isn’t all about work. Whether it’s scheduling Friday evening drinks via zoom or daily coffee and breakfast before logging into work, creating those opportunities for employees to spend time together is good for everyone’s mental health.