Should your Company Pay for Monthly Expenses Associated with Remote Work?
The surprising truth about benefits and perks
Twitter announced that its employees could continue to work remotely indefinitely. Recently, Gartner Inc. surveyed chief financial officers about the topic. 74% reported they expect some of their employees will keep working remotely after the crisis ends.
Working from home is the “new normal.” Remote work is likely here to stay not only for small businesses but also for many large businesses.
There is a question that arises with all that. Should companies pay for monthly expenses associated with remote work?
When a person works from home, in a coffee shop, or in a coworking, she is usually responsible for paying for her expenses. The same employee doesn’t have those same expenses when working in a physical office.
Actually, few companies pay employees for monthly expenses associated with remote work. Buffer did a survey confirming that:
- 80% of companies don’t pay for home internet
- 72% of companies don’t cover the cost of coworking membership
- 72% of companies don’t pay for cell phone
- 87% of companies don’t cover the cost of drinks/food at coffee shops
When I decided to work from home, I didn’t have the resources to pay for high salaries for my employees. Much less to pay for monthly expenses associated with their remote work.
As my remote company started to grow, I got the resources to pay for higher salaries. I needed to build a plan on how I would use the money to pay for my remote employees.
Money was once thought to be the best way to motivate an employee. If you wanted someone to stay with your company or to perform better, you simply had to offer financial incentives. However, the issue of money as a motivator has become questionable in many sectors. If you are a skilled worker, you will quite easily be able to find a job in your desired salary range.
Daniel Pink is the author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Salary, contract payments, some benefits, a few perks are what he calls “baseline rewards.”
Someone’s baseline rewards should be adequate or equitable. If that doesn’t happen, her focus will be on the unfairness of her situation and the anxiety of her circumstance. You won’t get the predictability of extrinsic motivation. You won’t get the weirdness of intrinsic motivation either You’ll get very little motivation at all.
Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money — the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake, says Daniel Pink.
The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table. The secret to high performance and satisfaction at work is the deeply human need to direct their own lives. Professionals want to learn, create new things, and do better by themselves and our world.
Benefits and perks
Research revealed the perks and benefits that businesses most frequently offer. The right complement of extras can make the difference between your top candidates joining your team or a competitor’s.
The terms perks and benefits are sometimes used interchangeably. Benefits are generally a form of non-cash compensation that covers basic needs. The five most common benefits are:
- Health insurance
- Paid time off
- Dental insurance
- Retirement savings plans
- Life insurance
Perks are nice-to-have additions to an employee’s salary and benefits package. They are above-and-beyond offerings that may sway an employee to value one employer over another. The five most common perks are:
- Flexible work schedules
- Remote work options
- Paid parental leave
- Employee discounts
- Paid time off for volunteering
It’s interesting to see that remote work is used as a perk. Buffer surveyed the topic. 98% of the respondents said that they would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers.
What I did in my remote company
- Ability to have a flexible schedule
- Flexibility to work from anywhere
- Not having to commute
- Ability to spend time with family
I interviewed many people for a job with my company. Most of them spent a lot of time, energy, and money commuting, for example. It would be a fantastic perk for them to work from their homes.
I always wanted to pay top market salaries for my employees. As my remote company started to grow, I began to put that into action.
I decided that I wouldn’t pay for monthly expenses associated with remote work. I increased everybody’s salary and let them decided how they wanted to spend their money. Each person works differently and has their own needs.
As a leader, I was there for my employees. I was helping them to give their best at their homes. Not only that but also to fully enjoy their work with me. I had to pay attention to their mental health.
After months of working with me, I saw many employees buying new stuff for their home offices. Many of them purchased new chairs, new tables, new computers. Some decided to work in coworking spaces.
They wanted to give their best to my company. They were happy with the work they were doing with me and with the money they were making.
What is the best perk?
Paying for monthly expenses associated with remote work may be considered a perk like free food. That has long been a perk at major tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Linkedin, Google, and Airbnb. However, offering free food and fancy offices is not the thing that makes people feel cared for.
Brene Brown said that a deep sense of love and belonging is a fundamental need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to.
I’m not against paying for monthly expenses associated with remote work. You can use that as a perk. However, there are other important things that employees care about. You have to have those in mind.
When employees feel a sense of belonging at work, they become more attached to their organization and occupation. These attachments are often better motivators than financial compensation for them to do their best work.
Having a sense of belonging at work leads to an increase in our psychological safety or a feeling of acceptance and respect. It also empowers us to be more authentic in our work.
Leaders will begin to leverage their people’s true power when employees know they can be their authentic selves at work. That will happen when their differences are recognized, accepted, and celebrated.