COVID-19

Some companies help employees cover costs of working from home

Erika Beras Aug 13, 2020
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
FreshSplash/Getty Images
COVID-19

Some companies help employees cover costs of working from home

Erika Beras Aug 13, 2020
Heard on:
FreshSplash/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

As more companies decide that their employees can work from home indefinitely, some of them are paying remote-work stipends — among them, Google, Twitter and Shopify.

The stipends let employees buy themselves things they need to recreate the office at home. And what those things are varies from company to company.

Sean Page already worked from home when the pandemic started. His employer, tech company Webflow, paid him a home office stipend of $250 a month, then upped it by 50%. Page has used the money to buy things like a chair and wellness apps. 

“My charger crapped out just because I’ve been using my laptop nonstop. So it was really nice having that remote stipend to kind of cover that cost when that occurred,” Page said.

More companies are following Webflow’s lead. Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School, said that’s the kind of thing potential employees look for. 

“They check what we know about this company and what they’ve done and how they’ve treated their employees before,” Cappelli said. “It’s kind of an investment in future recruiting.”

There are legal reasons for companies to spend this money, said Bradford Bell, a human resources professor at Cornell. 

“You certainly have issues around employee health and wellness,” he said.

So an ergonomic chair might make sense, and if they’re dealing with sensitive information and data, they might need file cabinets that lock, for example.

These stipends can’t provide the perks that a lot of workplaces offer. The cloud computing company Box in Redwood City, California, fed workers breakfast, lunch and snacks. Since lockdown, they got $600 in stipends. Chief People Officer Jessica Swank said the company isn’t trying to recreate its office experience.

“We recognize that we can’t duplicate it 1 to 1,” she said.

Swank said she hopes the stipends make working more comfortable for employees until they get back to the office — whenever that is.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.  

Need some Econ 101?

Our new Marketplace Crash Course is here to help. Sign-up for free, learn at your own pace.