The Evolution of Work-From-Home Benefits and Perks

Telecommuting considerations and opportunities for all organizations

By Matthew W. Burr, SHRM-SCP August 20, 2020
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The Evolution of Work-From-Home Benefits and Perks

​While organizations both small and large have been implementing work-from-home/telecommuting workplace policies, procedures and practices for years, the 2020 pandemic and resulting stay-at-home orders have required the rapid evolution of these programs. 

Working from home is a transition for all of us, and, for many, it is not easy. Organizations should recognize and support employees who are struggling with these quick changes and consider what additional benefits and perks to offer as they do their jobs from remote workspaces. To make efficient, business-driven decisions and provide the right information to employees and organizational leaders, utilize the SHRM competencies of Communication, Relationship Management and Leadership & Navigation.

  • Infrastructure and technology. Not all employees live in locations where high-speed Internet is available. For example, I am a professor who lives in the middle of the woods. In order for me to teach virtually, it is a priority to ensure that I have high-speed Internet access. This summer, I undertook an infrastructure project in my home to accomplish this before the fall term began. (I was fully involved in running fiber optic line up a thousand-foot hill. My Internet works perfectly now!) Ask employees if they are in similar situations to ensure that the organization is providing support for their infrastructure challenges.
  • Employee engagement. Many organizations offer workplace lunch-and-learn programs and employee appreciation luncheons for remote workers, as well as virtual trainings, lunches and company picnics. Ask the workforce which opportunities are of interest to them and communicate dates and times to ensure their active engagement. If your employees have been working virtually for months, you will be surprised at the turnout for these events, which many of my organizational clients have found to be extremely successful.

  • Virtual health and wellness. Because health and wellness play a critical role in all our lives, this is the most important item on the list. Organizations should review and implement measures that ensure the health and wellness of every employee and family member. These can include virtual medical appointments, stress relief programs, employee assistance programs, training opportunities, flexibility for parents to teach their kids throughout the day, virtual workouts, meditation, yoga, etc.
It is up to us as HR professionals and organizational leaders to seek information from and provide opportunities to employees. Some might be afraid to ask for something regarding their work-from-home positions, so ask questions. Create a survey or host small-group discussions for fact-based decision making. Measure success and seek feedback after you implement any new program.

This is a challenging time for all of us. HR can ease the burden by doing what is best for our workforce. Finding solutions and creating opportunities is a winning formula.

Matthew W. Burr, SHRM-SCP, owner of Burr Consulting LLC in Elmira, N.Y. and co-owner of Labor Love LLC, is an HR consultant, an assistant professor at Elmira College, and an on-call mediator and fact-finder for the New York State Public Employment Relations Board. He holds master's degrees in business administration and in human resources and industrial relations and is a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.

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