Consider for a moment how your work environment has changed from the beginning of the pandemic to the present. If you’re a part of the 66% of the workforce that switched to part-time or full-time remote working during the quarantine, the change likely included an abrupt evacuation of the office and a creative home office set up in an unused corner of your home.
Though many organizations had previously considered or offered remote working opportunities, the need for social distancing and other health best-practices forced businesses across the spectrum to consider the role that off-site work would play in their overall strategies.
One of the primary support systems to establish immediately is an unconventional benefits package for off-site team members. No matter how comprehensive your benefits are for those in the office — whether they include free morning breakfasts or meetups with colleagues at a local coffee shop — that experience will not translate directly to an employee’s new home office. To help you build out a remote benefits plan that supports team members in both the short- and long-term, we’ve listed some unconventional ideas for supporting those employees in out-of-office work situations.
Relocation Assistance Programs
If you truly want to invest in your workforce, a relocation assistance program is a great way to start. Whether a move is due to a personal reason or a work-related issue, a relocation assistance program can improve remote employee retention and ease a usually stressful transition period.
Relocation is a large area of working culture that has gained greater importance as time has gone on. Because of the rise in remote work, many people are now considering moving to a larger city or vice versa. From young people wanting to live in a more heavily populated area to those with families looking for suburban homes to raise children in, there are various reasons people relocate.
Remember, not all employees may be prepared to relocate on their own. Even if your relocation assistance program is limited by costs, setting up a resource hub with helpful information can go a long way. Some people may be ready to purchase a home and need assistance in learning more about how to get pre-approved for a mortgage, while others may want to continue to rent and save money to purchase a home later down the line. No two employees are completely alike, so by supplying a multitude of resources, you are more likely to aid a diverse group of people.
Encourage Cross-Department Collaborations
Loneliness and isolation are two major symptoms that come with the solitary nature of working from home. Employers often address the challenges that come with remote isolation by arranging team meetups or boosting other types of team communication. But it’s important to remember that those small, water-cooler chats with people outside of your direct team are an equally vital component of the in-office experience.
Try hosting a virtual happy hour or a regular after-hours team-building event. While the details of the event should adjust to your team’s interests, the goal should be to spark new opportunities to connect, even long after the event has ended.
A one-time coffee meet-up or online cocktail hour is certainly a fun way to connect, but the engagements often end when everyone logs off for the night. Instead, events that require multiple meetings to be successful—such as a speaker series, a book club, or a weekly dinner cook-off of a favorite recipe—give each remote employee an experience that more accurately mirrors their in-office conversations with colleagues.
How has your company balanced new work environments with the unconventional benefits your employees need to feel supported? How do you think these unique benefits will affect your organization in the long term? Check out our other recent insights on cultivating remote work culture to learn more!
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Health and Wellness Perks for Remote Employee
Nearly half of all remote workers express that their most prominent challenge is related to personal wellbeing. Remote workers tend to feel like they can’t disconnect from their jobs at the end of the day, and they are far more susceptible to isolating themselves from other people.
Fortunately, many remedies can make socially distanced work less taxing on your workforce’s mental health. One of the most apparent solutions that you can offer to your workplace is to vow to create a continued culture of positivity, even if that has to occur over the screen. Regularly scheduled touch-base meetings between HR and each individual at your company provide the ideal space to discuss how that person has acclimated to their new working arrangements and how the organization can better support their wellness.
Another method that businesses have utilized to ease the transition to fully remote is to subsidize activities that contribute to mental wellness. For some, this means sending a small gift card in the mail for a local coffee shop as a replacement for your routine coffee outing at the office. But companies that are fully invested in this idea have even repaid their remote employees for online gym memberships and new work equipment for the home office.
Key Takeaways with Unconventional Benefits
Employee benefits require much more than just a salary and paid time off in today’s business world. Add on the challenge of remote work, and you’re dealing with an even bigger struggle to balance both employees’ needs and wants. Luckily, there are some things you can do to foster a functional company culture.
Employee assistance programs are becoming more and more popular. Options range from financial education to mental health counseling and can help ease the stress of remote work. Cross-department collaboration is a surefire way to improve engagement among employees, and utilizing virtual events to entertain your workforce can be a helpful way to get people participating. Finally, promoting health and wellness perks can help foster your team’s feeling, which also provides employees with the opportunity to enhance their well-being.
Being aware and courteous of your workforce’s specific needs will go far in their productivity and overall happiness at their job. By implementing some of these creative unconventional benefits, you too can improve remote employee engagement and morale!