Whether your company launched into remote work due to the pandemic, or you’ve been practicing remote work for years, one part of growing and keeping a remote staff is clear: you must nurture employee happiness. And you can do that by offering unique benefits.
Remote employee benefits shouldn’t only rely on the ability to work from anywhere, flexible working hours, and zero commute. That’s a given. Companies can take it a step further by offering perks that improve productivity, career growth, and ultimately, employee happiness.
If you’re saving on overhead with your remote staff, consider how you can repurpose that budget towards perks. Let’s dive into what you can offer your remote staff throughout the year and during the holidays.
Establish a Health and Wellness Budget
Supporting your employees health and wellness will help them perform better at work. Since it’s common for people to face feelings of isolation when they’re working from home alone, it can take a toll on their mental health and desire to workout or eat healthy. Make an effort to combat that by offering a stipend that employees can use towards workout apps, fitness classes, a gym membership, or healthy food subscription.
Consider offering a budget upwards $50 per month to show your support for your employees well-being.
You can weave a health and wellness initiative into a holiday gift as well. For example, at my previous company, we were gifted an Apple Watch for the holidays. Then in the new year, our team built camaraderie by holding friendly competitions on who could close their rings every day over the course of a month — and those who did earned a gift card.
To this day I wear my Apple Watch, and it always reminds me of how supportive my previous employer was.
Encourage Virtual Happy Hours (With a Twist)
It’s one thing to hold a company-wide happy hour, it’s even more anticipated if you can bring it to the next level with a stipend or swag.
Order pizza for every virtual employee to enjoy together over a Zoom call. And to avoid ordering pizza to everyone’s homes yourself, use Pizzatime, a service that does it for you. Take it a step further by sending a swag bag home for employees to use during the call. For example, Ebay sent their remote staff grill utensils, spices, and a cocktail kit to facilitate a work-from-home barbeque over video.
Looking for something a little less time intensive? Turn your happy hour into a competition by using Kahoot to run quizzes. Test your employees knowledge of each other with the app and reward winners with a gift card of their choice.
Get Everyone Out Into the Community
While you might have to put community events on hold during COVID-19, there are many ways to encourage your remote staff to safely engage with their local community.
Offer your staff additional days off to volunteer for a charity in their area like a beach clean up or a food bank. Encouraging your staff to make a difference without sacrificing a vacation day will show much you care about them and their community.
Around the holidays, you can surprise your team with a holiday-themed volunteer day where anyone can take the day to help deliver holiday meals, wrap donations, or donate food to those in need.
Offer a Co-working or Home Office Stipend
One of the biggest benefits of remote work is having the choice to work from where you’re most productive. Some people get their best work done at home, while others prefer a coworking space or cafe.
Support your staff to make the best choice for them without the financial burden by offering a monthly coworking stipend or annual home office budget.
Anyplace, a housing marketplace for digital nomads, has a fully remote staff. Their operations manager Rafael Ayala Lopez says that a coworking stipend or home office budget should be a given for remote companies.
“We want our employees to feel comfortable to do their best work. So, we offer a $2,400 annual stipend for employees to outfit their home office, or $200 per month for those who prefer to work from a coworking space”Rafael Ayala Lopez
Consider how much you spend (or would spend) on office space for each employee to justify offering a monthly or annual budget.
Support Career Growth
Support your employees career development and growth by offering them the tools they need to do so. Beyond sharing the opportunities for advancement in your company, you can cover courses that will help them reach their goals.
Offer stipends for MasterClass, Skillshare, EdX, or other online learning platforms to aid growth beyond an employees job description. And the holidays are a great time to give a boost to that budget by offering even more.
Send Surprises Home
We’ve all seen influencers unbox surprises of all kinds. Everyone loves swag, snacks, and personalized gifts. So why not treat your employees with a box of their own?
Whether it’s a birthday, work anniversary, or holiday, assign someone on your team to create a personalized box of their favorite things that’s delivered to their doorstep. And remember that a small budget can go a long way — sending an employee their favorite snack or candy, a gift card to a local restaurant, and a thermos to keep their coffee warm will show how much you care.
Make PTO Even Better
While many companies have turned to the unlimited PTO model, you can take it a step further by rewarding your hard-working employees when they take their vacations. At my company for example, every employee has $1,000 per year to spend on travel — I’ve already used mine on a flight to Montenegro and a rental car.
For a holiday spin, offer a bonus to your remote employees that they can use on holiday expenses. Everyone loves that extra oomph towards the end of the year.
When determining what to offer your remote staff during the year and the holiday season, consider how much you save through remote work. And reinvest that into the people that make your business successful.