Best Employee Benefits for the Shift Toward Remote Work

best employee benefits

The way we work has undergone a seismic shift. The COVID-19 pandemic forced a global experiment in remote work, and the results have been surprising. What began as a temporary measure has blossomed into a long-term trend, driven by a core human desire: flexibility. This newfound freedom, however, comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities, particularly when it comes to the financial and mental well-being of the workforce.

The Rise of the Sandwich Generation

The current remote work phenomenon is largely fueled by Millennials (born 1981-1996) and Gen Xers (born 1965-1980), who now represent the majority of the U.S. workforce. These generations face a unique challenge: the “sandwich generation” squeeze1 who are increasingly responsible for caring for both young children and aging parents, creating a complex web of logistical and emotional demands.2

A 2023 study by New York Life found that 87% of the Sandwich Generation provides care for an aging relative and a child under the age of 18 years old.3 This trend, coupled with rising childcare costs and an aging population, creates a perfect storm for the need for flexible work arrangements.

Financial Pressures and the Well-Being Factor

The financial strain of the “sandwich generation” squeeze is significant. A 2023 TIAA study found that family caregivers spend an average of $7,200 per year4 in out-of-pocket expense for aging parents while the average annual childcare cost in the U.S. for infant center-based care is about $17,000.5

This financial pressure can have a detrimental effect on mental well-being. A 2023 Financial Health Pulse survey conducted by the Financial Health Network found a strong correlation between financial stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression.6

The WFH Lifeline: Flexibility and Well-Being

Work-from-home arrangements offer a lifeline to this generation. The flexibility to manage childcare schedules, attend appointments, and manage eldercare needs can significantly reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Furthermore, remote work and schedule flexibility allows employees to explore professional development opportunities that can lead to higher wages and alleviate financial pressures.

While general workplace anxiety has increased post-pandemic, remote workers have an additional concern: feeling like they’re missing out on career advancement opportunities.7 A 2021 Gallup/Amazon study8 found that nearly two out of three workers (67%) believe employer-provided upskilling is very important to evaluating whether to stay in their current job or accept a new job offer.  In the competitive talent market, companies with robust remote skill development programs and transparent career paths will be the most attractive to remote workers. This upskilling not only benefits employees but also improves company productivity by fostering a more skilled workforce.

WFH Leads to Pet Boom

Interestingly, the WFH trend has also led to a surge in pet ownership. A 2022 survey by the American Pet Products Association found that pet ownership in the United States reached a record high of 70% of households.9 Pets can provide companionship, reduce stress, and even encourage physical activity, all of which contribute to improved mental well-being.10 However, pet ownership also comes with financial responsibility. Costs associated with food, vet care, and pet insurance can add up quickly.

Companies Take Responsibility: Home Office Expenses

As the WFH trend solidifies, the conversation around what should be covered or even encouraged on home office expenses is gaining traction. Employees working remotely utilize their personal space for professional purposes, incurring costs for electricity, internet, and ergonomic furniture. According to BenePass, companies offering a home office stipend or covering these expenses directly can significantly improve employee morale and retention.11

The specific expenses covered can vary depending on the company policy. Some common examples include:

  • Internet Reimbursement: High-speed internet is essential for remote work. Companies may choose to reimburse employees for a portion or the entirety of their internet bill.
  • Ergonomic Furniture: Proper equipment can prevent injuries and improve comfort. Some companies may offer a stipend for ergonomic furniture purchases or provide employees with a list of approved vendors.
  • Utilities: Working from home increases electricity usage. Companies may offer a flat stipend or a partial contribution towards increased utility costs.

The Virtuous Cycle: Well-being, Productivity, and Retention

By addressing these financial concerns, companies can improve employee well-being, reduce stress and boost morale.  The Harvard Business Review says reduced stress and improved mental health lead to higher employee engagement and productivity.12 Happy employees are also more likely to stay with their companies, reducing costly turnover rates.

The Future of Work: A Hybrid Model

While remote work offers significant benefits, some aspects of in-person collaboration remain crucial. Recognizing this, many companies are adopting a hybrid work model, where employees split their time between working from home and coming into the office. This approach allows for a balance between flexibility, collaboration, and company culture.

As we move forward, it will be interesting to see how this new era of work continues to evolve. Here are some key trends (& corresponding employee benefits) to watch:

  • The Rise of Technology: Advancements in collaboration tools, video conferencing platforms, and project management software will continue to facilitate seamless remote work.
  • The Focus on Mental Health: Companies will continue to prioritize employee well-being by offering mental health benefits and resources and promoting healthy work-life boundaries.
  • The Blurring of Lines: As the distinction between work and personal life becomes more fluid, companies will improve their guidance and expectations to prevent burnout.
  • The Importance of Reskilling and Upskilling: As the nature of work continues to change, employees will need to continuously learn and develop new skills to stay relevant. An employee benefit that reimburses professional development is one proven strategy.
  • Financial Wellness Initiatives: Recognizing the growing importance of financial well-being, companies are getting creative in supporting their employees’ financial health. Examples include:
    • Financial Planning and Education Resources: Providing access to workshops or online resources empowers employees to manage their finances, reduce debt, and plan for the future.
    • Student Loan Repayment Assistance: Helping employees tackle student loan debt, a major financial stressor, can significantly improve financial well-being and overall morale.
    • Salary Packaging and Benefits with Financial Advantages: Offering options for salary packaging (redirecting pre-tax income towards benefits) and benefits packages that emphasize financial security, like Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) with employer contributions, can put more money directly in employees’ pockets.

In conclusion, the WFH revolution is transforming the way we work. By prioritizing these types of the best employee benefits and fostering a culture of flexibility and well-being, companies can attract and retain top talent in the competitive remote work landscape. The future of work is bright for those who embrace this new era and prioritize the holistic financial and personal needs of their most valuable asset: your employees.

BASIC Consumer Driven Accounts (CDA) and Fringe Benefit Accounts

BASIC is proud to deliver benefits that meet the needs of the modern workforce through our Consumer Driven Accounts (CDA) platform, a state-of-the-art connected way to offer and manage benefits. We offer more than 30 in-demand benefits to choose from, including Home Office Reimbursement Account, Pet Care Reimbursement Account, Wellness, and many more! BASIC CDA makes it easier than ever to design a benefits package that works for an employer’s unique staff and culture. If you want a better benefits platform with more accounts to choose from, request a proposal from BASIC today!


  1. USA Today (2023): “What is the ‘sandwich generation’? Many adults struggle with caregiving, bills and work”
  2. Pew Research Center (2022): “A Multigenerational Health Care Squeeze for Adults Ages 40 to 64”
  3. New York Life (2023): “Nearly half of the Sandwich Generation report a time they were unable to meet essential expenses due to costs of caregiving.”
  4. Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (2023): “Playing the long game: How longevity affects financial planning and family caregiving”
  5. United States Census Bureau (2024): “Estimated Revenue for Child Day Care Services Climbed as Child Care Options Declined in 2021”
  6. Financial Health Network (2023): “Understanding the Mental-Financial Health Connection”
  7. CNBC (2021): “Return-to-office fears: Remote workers worry about falling behind in careers”
  8. Gallup + Amazon (2021): “The American Upskilling Study shows workers want skills training’
  9. Veterinary Advantage (2021): “70% Of U.S. Households Have Pets, APPA Finds in New Survey”
  10. Forbes (2023): “A Psychologist Explores the Transformative Power of Pets on Mental Health”
  11. Benepass (2023): “A Guide to Stipends & Employee Perks (Updated for 2023)“
  12. Harvard Business Review (2023): “Creating a Happier Workplace Is Possible — and Worth It”