The business world wasn’t done many favors by the COVID-19 pandemic, but as vaccines roll out and the end is finally in sight, it’s possible to focus on some positives that came out of the pandemic. For many businesses, one of these silver linings was the realization that employees can be just as productive from home as they were in the brick-and-mortar office settings.
As remote work is expected to continue long after COVID-19 is just a memory, companies need to put a focus on how to enable these remote employees further. Money saved on office space can be used elsewhere, and why not perk up those employees who are saving you that money?
Here is a look at a few perks for the remote workforce that human resource management teams can aim to implement to boost morale and a feeling of connection.
If all of those second monitors and ergonomic keyboards are now just sitting around the office, send them to your teams. Printers, mice, etc. are also things that can enable employees to perform at higher levels, and building a reputation as a company that provides all the tools needed for success, even to their remote workers, also makes for higher retention rates and a more appealing landing spot for new talent.
The remote life in and of itself has many perks, but being able to go to a meeting in flip flops and cooking in your own kitchen every day can wind up leaving employees a bit lonely. Happy hours don’t have to end because office work did, and creating digital happy hours, post-work “outings” (Zoom yoga, movie nights, etc.), and other voluntary-yet-fun opportunities can help employees feel physically closer to their teams, even if they are thousands of miles away. Fun, printable awards are other ways of sharing employee recognition and allowing the home office to feel more like the brick-and-mortar one, just without the traffic, and friendly competition tends to breed productivity, as a bonus.
If your company has many in-office perks like free snacks, pizza Wednesdays, and just random meals and gifts, remote employees may feel a bit underappreciated for not receiving them. Ultimately, though, money speaks and offering remote workers stipends to be able to get themselves lunch or pay for that digital happy hour beer can right that wrong very quickly.
Though they might not wear it to their next date, send your remote employees some branded clothes, coffee mugs, etc. It’s free marketing for you and will make them feel a little closer to the team.
Get them out of the house
In all its glory, working from home does get boring, not unlike working from an office. If your team has the capacity to do so, assign a fun morale-boosting project on a Friday afternoon and have your team members do something like take a picture at their favorite local hiking place, and make a nice picture collage to share on Monday. These should not be coupled with corporate training or other ulterior motives, as that takes away from the feeling of freedom from work.
This “mandatory fun” is a nice mix-up from the daily routine, and in addition to being enjoyable, such activities tend to lead to a renewed vigor when it comes to work.
This one should not be mandatory, as everyone deals with exercise differently, but providing things like weekly emails about at-home activities to help people stay fit and healthy is taken as a perk by many. A healthy team is generally a more productive team, though this must be done with a soft hand, as to not insinuate anyone needs to improve their fitness regimens. One way to further encourage exercise is to send some clothes to do it in. Sneakers can be bought in bulk, and go a lot further than a branded t-shirt.
The remote work trend is not going anywhere, even when COVID is gone, so the more perks you can offer, the better chance you have at retaining employees. Other companies will, no doubt, be offering similar perks, so painting the home office experience within your company as well as you can means a lot more than having some happy employees.
Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to ecommerce and everything in between. He implements lean methodology and is currently writing a book about scaling up business.