Benefits & Leave 8 min

What are the best benefits for remote employees?

Written by Francesco Cardi
Francesco Cardi


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One of the biggest advantages of being a remote employer is that you widen your potential talent pool. 

But it also means that competition for the best talent is fierce. Being able to attract — and retain — this talent can be a challenge.

One of the best ways to overcome this obstacle is to offer a generous benefits package. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most appealing — and cost-effective — benefits to offer, and explain how you can do so compliantly, no matter where your employees are based.

So let’s jump right in.

Why are benefits for remote employees so important?

First, it’s important to clarify why exactly you should put so much effort into your benefits. Here are some of the key reasons:

It attracts top talent

As mentioned, top candidates are spoilt for choice when it comes to prospective employers. This means that, when it comes to pay and benefits, they have a lot of bargaining power.

This imbalance is compounded in the remote environment, too, as these candidates aren’t just limited to local employers.

By offering a comprehensive, industry-leading benefits package, it becomes easier to stand out. As a smaller business, it can also give you an edge against bigger competitors and tip the scales in your favor.

It reduces turnover

An attractive benefits package doesn’t just attract talent; it helps you keep it, too. 

If you offer industry-leading benefits, all employees — not just remote ones — will think twice about giving them up. Even if a competitor offers to pay more, your people may want to stick with you to keep their benefits.

It helps increase productivity

On the surface, satisfied employees are more likely to perform well in their roles. If they feel appreciated and looked after, they’re going to be more committed to your company.

But good benefits can boost productivity in a range of practical ways, too. For example, home office stipends enable your people to work physically unhindered. Flexible hours can allow your team to do their best work at the hours most suited to their schedules. And wellness programs and unlimited paid time off (PTO) helps ensure that your employees are happy, healthy, and not at risk of burnout.

Remember: these perks are not “favors” to your team members, or a compromise to keep people happy. They enable your workforce to perform to the best of their ability and should be treated as such.

The top benefits to offer remote employees

So what exactly should you offer?

There are many types of benefits you can provide, with some more costly than others. Here are some that your remote employees will find especially helpful, wherever they are based.

1. Health insurance coverage

In many countries, such as the US, healthcare is a sizable household expense — making health insurance a crucial benefit.

In countries that don’t offer universal healthcare, health insurance is often a statutory benefit, meaning you are required to provide a health insurance plan by law.

As such, most employees expect good coverage at an affordable rate for them and their families.

Where you can set your company apart, however, is by covering premiums (or a portion of them), and providing supplemental policies such as dental and vision coverage. This approach can (literally) be a lifesaver for many people.

Of over 2,000 workers, 77% of respondents in the US said that private health insurance was “very important” to them, as did 62% of European respondents.

- Remote Global Benefits Report, 2022

Even in countries that have universal healthcare, like the UK, health insurance is a valuable benefit.

Of course, attitudes are different across the world, so it’s important to take an equitable approach. Our global benefits team can help you break down your options and deliver a fair and generous solution for all your people, wherever they are based.

2. Home office stipend

A home office stipend is an allowance that remote employees can use to spend on home office equipment. 

Note that this shouldn’t include technical equipment that your people need to do their job, such as laptops, mouses, keyboards, and headsets. Instead, it is designed to help your employees create a comfortable working space that enables them to be productive and efficient.

As such, the stipend should be big enough to cover the basics, such as desks, chairs, and ergonomic support.

On the surface, this may seem like a costly expense. But if you were (or are partly) based in a physical office, you would need to buy (and maintain) furniture for your team’s workspaces anyway.

3. Professional development allowance

Employees become more valuable to your organization when they are able to develop their knowledge and skills. Which is why a professional development allowance is another benefit that can offer a direct potential return on your investment. 

Set aside an annual budget that your employees can use to attend conferences, take courses, earn certifications, or put towards higher education. 

4. Health and wellness programs

Health and wellness programs help employees pay for activities and equipment that improve their physical and mental health. This is an especially important benefit for remote workers, who may encounter more social isolation than their in-office counterparts.

For example, you might reimburse:

  • Gym memberships

  • Recreational sports activities

  • Sports equipment

  • Sessions with approved psychologists

  • Massages and spa sessions

Some companies also provide a related hobby benefit, which employees can use to join clubs, take lessons, learn languages, or buy books; anything, essentially, that is deemed beneficial to a person’s wellness.

If possible, make sure your health insurance package has adequate coverage for mental health care, too.

Learn how to attract top talent with Remote's Global Benefits Report

Insights from 2,500+ decision makers and employees in key markets to help you uncover the benefits your team want and need in 2023.

5. Unlimited PTO

There are a lot of misconceptions around unlimited PTO, which can make some companies hesitant to offer this benefit. In reality, though, it’s simply about being more flexible. Rather than unlimited PTO, think of it as unstructured PTO where you approve requests at your discretion.

This enables employees to manage their time off in a way that reflects their workflow and personal needs. They don’t need to budget PTO or worry about running out, only for something to come up later.

It doesn’t mean that your employees will be absent for half the year, either. In fact, studies have shown that, in some cases, unlimited PTO actually results in employees taking fewer vacation days than before. Without a “use it or lose it” policy in place, many workers don’t take vacations unless they truly need one.

That said, you don’t want your employees to burn out. Make sure you encourage people to take time off and use the benefit appropriately. Ensure, too, that employees are taking the minimum vacation days mandated by their country’s labor laws, as failure to do so can create compliance issues for your company.

Unlimited PTO can be a cultural adjustment for some employees, who may be used to traditional PTO policies. And it also requires a lot of responsibility on their part. To learn more about how to successfully implement an unlimited PTO policy, check out our expert guide.

6. Vacation stipend

Unlimited PTO can be a compelling perk for your remote employees, but you can take this a step further with vacation stipends.

In itself, this is an attractive benefit; who doesn’t mind having some of their vacation paid for? But crucially, it also shows your employees that you’re serious about wanting them to take time off and reset their batteries.

7. Flexible hours

For many employees, one of the biggest draws of remote work is the increased flexibility it offers. It allows them to work around their personal schedule, and focus on high-quality output rather than adhering rigidly to set working hours.

Flexible hours can be beneficial for your business, too. As well as allowing your people to have a clearer work-life balance, it allows them to work when they feel most productive. 

Of course, in a remote environment, you need to have a culture in place that allows for this level of trust and responsibility. As a starting point, your teams need to be comfortable — and capable of — working asynchronously.

But this is a great benefit to offer, especially for small businesses, as it doesn’t cost anything to implement.

8. Employee rewards/recognition

Employee recognition programs reward employees for outstanding work, and can take many forms.

For instance, you can give digital gift certificates or send physical rewards. Alternatively, you can build a formal program where your employees can give each other “points” that are redeemable for gifts.

These kinds of rewards are especially effective for remote employees, as it can help them feel more appreciated and involved in the company.

Unique employee benefits: 21 ideas for your business

Explore our list of unique employee benefits, and see how they can help attract top talent and forge a positive company culture.

Build a benefits package with Remote

Benefits are a crucial part of attracting and retaining employees, and even more so for your remote ones. But while the benefits listed above are popular, researching, selecting, and managing the right ones for your team is tricky.

Remote can help — wherever your workers are based. When you hire people through our employer of record (EOR) platform, we’ll help you choose the most competitive country-specific benefits — and manage them for you, too.

By giving you and your team access to benefits you might not have otherwise been able to provide, you can attract and retain the best talent for your business. 

To learn more, check out our global benefits guide — or book a free demo today!

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