When offices closed in March of last year, many employees weren’t sure how they felt about their new working arrangement. Working from a kitchen counter wasn’t nearly as comfortable as the desk and chair provided by their employer. Balancing family, work, and COVID-19 stress wasn’t conducive to being focused and productive, either.
However, people quickly adjusted. According to one LinkedIn survey of 1.7 million professionals, by May 70% of workers were interested in working from home permanently although not necessarily on a full-time basis. The longer this arrangement continues, the less likely it becomes that employees will want to commute to the office every day. Indeed, remote work may become a determining factor when professionals consider switching jobs.
In this blog we’ll explain why your business should review your remote working policy and some key aspects to consider while you do so.
Audit Your Internal Tools
Though working remotely brings many benefits, it does have drawbacks. Communication between employees has become challenging and individuals struggle to feel part of a team. In the LinkedIn survey, employees wanted their employers to invest in tools that improve communication and culture.
We have already seen great strides in the development and adoption of such technology. Video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Hangout, and Teams have become ubiquitous, as have instant messaging applications like Slack. These solutions are either for one-on-one or group discussions and are often used to discuss work-related issues. Platforms such as Kumospace allow teams to gather in large groups and break off into smaller groups for personal conversations. This more accurately replicates a social environment as individuals can move their avatar around the room and jump in and out of conversations.
It’s worth noting that remote workplaces often set aside time for in-person team building. Automatic, the creators of WordPress, has been fully remote for more than five years. Once a year, the company comes together for a two week strategy and team bonding retreat, usually held somewhere pleasant like Hawaii. They also provide each team member with a $500 a month stipend for workplace accommodations. If an employee prefers to rent a desk at WeWork or buy a latte and sit in a coffee shop, they will cover the cost.
Your business may not be able to send every employee to Hawaii, but there are plenty of local ways you can periodically come together as a team once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. For instance, solving escape rooms, going bowling, or snowshoeing in the winter are some ways to bring the team together for some fun.
Rethink Your Benefits Offerings
If you plan to re-evaluate your remote work policy, you may want to take a look at your benefits offerings too. Remote workers are enticed by a different set of benefits than employees who are in the office everyday. Common perks such as transit passes, in-office gyms, lunch catering, and drinks on Friday are not going to tempt someone who wants to be working from their home office the majority of the time.
Just under half of employees who responded to the LinkedIn survey said they wanted their employer to provide more health and wellness benefits. Almost one-third wanted a home office stipend.
Perhaps instead of providing an in-office gym and catered lunches, you provide a fitness allowance for employees to purchase their own gym equipment or memberships. Similarly, that transit or parking pass could become a home office stipend, allowing employees to build workstations that make them comfortable and efficient.
Speak with your employees and get a sense of what they might be looking for in their benefits offerings if your workplace was to make remote work a regular part of the office culture.
It is becoming clear that employees enjoy remote work and, if given the option, would prefer not to return to the office on a full-time basis. Going forward, having a flexible remote work policy may be key to attracting and retaining top talent. It is undoubtedly a major shift in office culture and there are some considerations that have to be taken into account before moving forward, such as how to keep teams feeling connected and changing your employee benefits to match the new work environment.
Retirement and Savings Plans
Understand employer-sponsored retirement and savings plans with this webinar. Learn what types of benefits are available and which plan makes the most sense for your firm.