To attract the best candidates, companies began adding benefits to their employee contracts—a practice that took its foothold in the 1960s and has skyrocketed ever since. In the 1940s, only 9% of employers offered health benefits; in 1960, the number was over 70%. A similar number of companies also added retirement and pension plans. However, the modern fabric of the working world has changed, especially with respect to the COVID pandemic. Today, finding companies with the best remote benefits remains a difficult practice. But it’s not impossible.
Think about the rapid change of benefits in pre-COVID eras. The lack of financial feasibility caused companies to turn retirement plans and pensions into Free Beer Fridays, ping pong tables, and making every day Bring Your Pet to Work Day. Yet a mass migration from the brick-and-mortar office to the virtual workplace has rendered these benefits obsolete. Nevertheless, companies that want to hire top talent continue to rework their benefits, even in a work from home atmosphere.
So if you’re searching for a company with the best remote benefits, you may not have to look as hard as you think. Here are some of the top places to get great job perks in dynamic virtual landscape.
When given from remote employers to employees, autonomy is a perk all in itself. The lack of micromanagement allows workers to do their own thing, as well as increasing employee engagement and job satisfaction.
However, employers must recognize how people work in order to maximize the benefits of autonomy. The problem is that everyone works differently. To tackle this problem, Madeline Farquharson of Bunch.ai, an artificial intelligence leadership coaching website and app, uses a remote readiness initiative. This program provides three different types of remote packages to maximize worker productivity.
“We launched a pilot program around July called our remote readiness initiative. Each “Bunchee” (worker at bunch) could choose from one of three remote packages:
1. Ultimate Coworker: a stipend for a coworking subscription
2. Drifter: A smaller stipend for coworking, plus a small stipend for cafes or your internet bill at home covered
3. True Homie: An office upgrade stipend and a home internet reimbursement.
On top of this, we have [educational] budgets and some subscriptions that apply to everyone like Audible and Spotify. These are perks that actually matter to us as employees. They facilitate our ability to be successful in our work and don’t assume our needs for us.”
If you work with a distributed workforce or even digital nomads scattered about the globe, these types of perks are ideal for even more flexibility and mobility. Even upgrades to a home office are something that can boost your future hiring talent pool and current employee morale.
2. Dotcom Dollar
Agoraphobia is a true threat following the onset of the COVID pandemic. As more people worry about catching COVID due to spiking numbers of infections or media sensationalism, the tendency is to remain at home. However, this can lead to psychological and mental health issues, especially for work at home employees.
Allan Borch, growth hacker and founder of Dotcom Dollar, an online resource for bloggers and affiliate marketers, uses an old-school team-building trip to counteract the potential for agoraphobia, loneliness, and isolation.
“Our company conducts company gatherings every other year. This serves as our team building activity/biannual vacation where everyone can socialize for three days in a hotel or a resort. All expenses of each employee are always shouldered by the company from plane tickets to meals to accommodation. We also provide allowance to each of them that would cover other expenses they have during this three-day trip.
Our company believes that it is one of the ways to compensate our workers for their hard work and loyalty. Also, this is a good way to help them deal with their stress, fatigue, and burnout moments that could be caused by work-related tasks.
Bottom line: Compensation and perks like a free vacation are not just a way to give back to employees. It is also a great opportunity for the company to promote mental health in its workforce and to help each employee to socialize which could further foster the company’s positive culture.”
Although some employees may still balk at an in-person gathering—even with social distancing and mask-wearing protocols—the idea is to tout your appreciation for your team. And perhaps nothing else reaches employees better than an all-expenses-paid vacation.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the video industry game has been booming. Yet kids using educational games to supplant traditional schooling and teens playing Fortnite aren’t the only ones behind the controls. According to the AARP, around 50 million adults, working professionals, and retirees regularly play video games. This figure highlights not only changing recreational patterns due to COVID restrictions, but also the rise in digital platforms as a popular method of relaxation.
Tom Winter, co-founder and tech recruitment advisor at DevSkiller.com, a screening platform for companies hiring tech professionals, uses video games as one of his employee perks:
“[Because] everyone is stuck at home, we also decided to give remote employees company credit to buy computer games on Steam. Many of our employees enjoy online gaming, so we decided to create a company account and load it up with all the classics. Since the games can be downloaded and enjoyed by everyone, or even played together online, it’s allowed our remote employees to have a bit of fun and socialize during the pandemic.
Each employee gets one game per month of up to $75 and each selection goes through an approval process. That is, each employee picks 4 games and creates a poll which is voted by our top-geeks and video game aficionados. The game with the most votes gets downloaded, making the process a bit more fun, allowing the majority to have the final say.”
Through this video game polling process, Winter not only creates a fun out-of-work atmosphere, but also promotes employee participation. And with the number of gamers growing exponentially, this is a great way to encourage employee morale and engagement.
One of the common resolutions of fresh remote workers is that the work-life balance will afford them new opportunities to stay in shape. But in many cases, it doesn’t work out that way. Fitness doesn’t go hand-in-hand with sitting behind a computer screen for long hours. And even when workers have the full autonomy to set a schedule, they fall into habits of a sedentary lifestyle.
Nina Krol, outreach manager at Zety.com, an online resume builder, helps workers find outlets that encourage fitness and exercise:
“Since keeping the body strong keeps the mind strong, we thought running a series of online fitness classes would be an appreciable and fun benefit for our remote employees. And so off we went searching for the best and most enthusiastic instructors that would run our yoga, pilates, healthy spine, or body pump class. These activities gather work colleagues in real-time and help them blow off steam and have fun together.”
In addition to keeping the mind strong, studies have also shown that workers who exercise regularly can stave off a number of health issues, including:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
As a result, many remote companies with the best remote benefits are turning to fitness regimens or programs. Making it voluntary is ideal, but the payoff in employee health and morale is worth the cost.
As the COVID pandemic rears its ugly head for perhaps a second large spike, many online retailers have seen a dramatic increase in business. Everyday, work from home employees use services such as Instacart, Uber Eats, and Amazon to get the products they need delivered directly to their home.
CEO and co-founder Malte Scholz of Airfocus, a company that produces a road-mapping and prioritization tool for remote teams, weighs in on this burgeoning trend of online shopping:
“Each month we choose the best three employees and award them with $100 gift cards for Amazon. The criteria are always different because I want to give everybody a chance to win the reward. I used to simply give monthly money bonuses, but I realized that people actually enjoy getting gift cards. Amazon is definitely one of the best places to shop for all kinds of things online.”
Through this method, Airfocus becomes another company with the best remote benefits, while also creating a bit of friendly competition.
6. Jimmy Naraine Group
Even though the COVID pandemic left many digital nomads grounded and unable to indulge their wanderlust, many entrepreneurs in the lifestyle maintain some great perks.
Jimmy Naraine, founder of an eponymous business that helps clients build online courses, maintains that being part of a digital nomad-based company provides some unique perks. In addition, he adds a few of his own to keep employee morale high:
“Being able to work from absolutely anywhere with a flexible work schedule. I don’t care when exactly they work as long as they produce results. This serves as a great motivator for them to be effective instead of busy for the sake of being busy.
All my employees, from day one, get free access to all training programs and educational materials created by my company. Even though my employees work from home I still pay them their regular rate. This allows them to avoid expenses that are the part and parcel of regular office work, which in turn leads to higher disposable income / more savings.”
7. The Word Counter
Remote work, especially during the pandemic, can create loads of idle time. Often, workers don’t use this to further their career or build their credentials. Sometimes, they need a bit of motivation through employer perks.
Kevin Miller is the founder and CEO of The Word Counter. This online tool helps clients count words, characters, sentences, paragraphs, and pages in real-time, along with spelling and grammar checking. As a company with a distributed staff, he turns to stipends for online learning to improve the skills and quality of his team.
“With COVID upon us, this is a great time to have employees take online classes. Our organization has a Grow Your Craft fund, where we give employees $1,000 to spend on an online course of their choice. The only requirement is that it has to connect to the functional work area that the employee is in right now. We currently have employees enrolled in courses doing Google Analytics, Google Adwords, SQL, Data Analysis, and more. It has been a huge hit across the company with 80% adoption so far.
In addition, a bonus stipend in the amount of $1,000 was sent to all employees to help during this difficult time. We are doing everything we can to ensure that our employees are taken care of. Our employees are the lifeblood of our business, and we simply can’t operate without them.”
By providing educational perks and a company stimulus, companies can not only build a more efficient team, but also show employees they care. Together, these aspects can improve employee retention that companies can count on.
The Future of Companies With the Best Remote Benefits
Companies with the best remote benefits are proof that thinking outside of the box is the only way to maintain employee engagement and morale during times of uncertainty. What’s offered as a benefit isn’t necessarily the most vital aspect. Sometimes, it’s looking out for employees and the thought that matters most. Only time will tell what lies in the future for benefits for remote workers. But odds are, creativity will breed innovation in the employee benefits world. The trade-off between employer benefits and employee work ethic will only bolster a strong working relationship, even in the digital workplace.
Are you an employer or owner of a remote company with the best remote benefits? Or an employee of a work from home company with great benefits? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube to share what benefits you offer or currently have. We’d love to hear from you!
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