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Should an employer offer contributions for working from home?

February 22, 2021

It is needless to say that the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the workplace. Almost overnight, millions of employees have had to leave their office and required to work from home, with video calls and online messaging replacing meetings and day-to-day in person interactions. Numerous companies, including several Silicon Valley conglomerates, have already announced they will allow employees to work from home permanently.

 

With remote work looking to be a permanent fixture in the world of work, many companies are having to evaluate their work policies to see what fundamental changes are needed to reflect this new normal. One such point of discussion is the growing question of whether employers should provide certain financial contributions for employees working from home, and if so, what they must or could provide.

 

Last year, Shopify announced that it would give its newly remote employees a US$1,000 allowance to set up their home office. Remote workers at Twitter also received the same amount as part of a similar policy. Just a few months ago, a top court in Switzerland ruled that companies had to contribute to a portion of their employee’s rent if they’re working from home, although we can all agree that might not work for everyone!

 

So, should your company offer support for your remote workers? And if so, what are the best practices? Read on to find out.

 

From a Legal Standpoint

 

At present, remote working regulations are a bit of a grey area, and the rules can vary from country to country. On the whole, an employer has to ensure that their employees have the equipment and tools they need in order to do their job effectively, which usually includes things like laptops, phones and Internet.

 

Home Office Working from Home
Source: The Standard

However, employers are under no legal obligation to pay for additional home equipment like a desk, multiple display screens or electricity. And if provided, it is usually at the employer’s own discretion. Nonetheless, whilst providing additional work from home equipment and other support is not required under law, many companies find that doing so can prove to be a benefit to employee morale and work productivity.

A recent survey by Mercer found that nearly a third of companies reported reimbursing their remote employees for laptops, and over 14% of respondents paid for ergonomic home-office furniture.

 

How You Can Support WFH Employees

 

Even though you’re not legally required to do so, the perks of financially supporting your remote employees as a way to boost productivity and morale are worth it. And there are a few different ways you can go about it!

 

You can introduce a home working risk assessment to see how your employee’s home set-up could be improved. Following the assessment, you can either subsidise or carry out the necessary upgrades to their set-up so they are well-equipped to complete their work efficiently.

Working From Home
Source: Pexels

 

Some companies have opted to give employees a budget to purchase their choice of WFH equipment. Companies can choose from offering a one-off budget, a regular tech allowance for WiFi and phone costs, or a “request for approval” system to cover equipment on an ad hoc basis.

 

It’s impossible to expect everyone’s home environment to be conducive to work. Some people will have noisy children running around their home, live in a small space that won’t fit a work desk, or simply prefer going to an external space to get their work done. Therefore, it is important to provide to provide an alternative option such as a hot desk membership or workspace and meeting room credits.

 

Coworking Space Hong Kong
Source: MyBase

Another option could be to work with an office space provider that allows their tenants to work at any of the workspaces from their extensive portfolio so employees can have access to a suitable workspace in a location convenient for them.

 

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Approach

 

At the end of the day, it’s important to note that you’ll need to test different strategies to see what works best for your teams. But as long as you keep taking steps to uncover what your employees truly need to do their work, you’re moving in the right direction!

 

If you’re thinking about offering external workspace options for your remote employees, BOOQED works with hundreds of workspaces across Hong Kong, Singapore and China to provide suitable hot desks, offices and meetings rooms on demand. Companies can even purchase credits in one-go so they can have better control of their workspace budget.

 

Our team of experts are always happy to give some professional advice and work with you to find a solution that suits your needs. Simply contact us here to get started!