To help organizations better understand what their employees truly want, Namely, the leading HR platform for mid-sized companies, recently conducted research on working from home trends. While the pandemic forced many workforces to work remotely – an estimated 56 percent in the U.S. – employers and employees were not necessarily prepared for this shift. Namely's research uncovered that not every employee experience has been similar and the "cost of doing business" resides with the employee now.
The "WFH" trend was recently in the news when a major financial institution proposed a work-from-home tax on those employees choosing to remain remote. They argued that working from home is financially advantageous since workers aren't spending money on travel, clothing, cleaning and food. Yet, their proposal also admitted that any gains are outweighed by dealing with "imperfect home-office" setups and the stress of juggling work and family from home.
It seemed intuitive to researchers at Namely that employers would subsidize the basics of working from home. Forty-seven percent of respondents acknowledged that their monitors, laptops, and even desks were being subsidized, but 42 percent received no subsidies. When asked what working from home expenses should be paid for by employers, Wi-Fi topped the list with 41 percent. Eleven percent responded saying ergonomic support was imperative since working from home suddenly turned kitchens, dining rooms, and even bedrooms into "offices."
When asked if workplaces should provide a general work-from-home stipend, a resounding 72 percent said yes. There was far less consensus on the amount. A monthly amount was preferred, ranging from $50-200 on average or a one-time payment such as $1,000 to set up the home office. Others commented that whatever operating costs the employer would otherwise spend per employee in the office should be reimbursed; geolocation-based remuneration was suggested, such as $400 per month for more expensive cities like New York.
Some respondents were philosophical in their view of the pandemic's impact. No stipend expected or required, several wrote, considering present circumstances to be a temporary situation.
Amy Roy, Namely's Chief People Officer, observed, "Whether out of anxiety or necessity, more employees are now clamoring to remain remote. They're balancing their kids, their pets, and their full-time jobs while trying to maintain optimal productivity. One thing is for sure, the employers who empathetically helped their employees weather these challenging times have earned loyalty in ways not previously generated."
Roy commented further, saying, "Asking employees to return to the physical workplace after COVID-19 requires careful planning and consideration. By communicating safety measures, staggered shifts, and scheduled disinfecting procedures, employees' fears can be reduced. That said, maintaining a hybrid workforce where some employees continue to work from home helps employers achieve business objectives while ensuring employee engagement."