Financial wellbeing for home workers: should employers be considering work-at-home allowances?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work. Many more of us have been experiencing home working during this time. Recent figures estimate 20 million people are now working from home – up from 1.7 million before the pandemic, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

Financial wellbeing for home workers: should employers be considering work-at-home allowances?

Sian Evans, head of leadership and learning, and Camilla Brooke, head of client relationships, both from Simplyhealth, will be speaking at the Employee Wellbeing Congress on 23rd September at 11.45. Their session is a case study on Simplyhealth as an organisation about how it is actioning organisational purpose.

Despite the challenges home working can present, many employees will want to continue working in this way beyond lockdown. Not only does it offer a better blend between work and life, it helps us protect our health during this difficult time. In this new home-working normal, employers can support financial wellbeing through work-at-home allowances.

Subsidising office equipment

An area where employers can make a big difference is helping staff get appropriately equipped for home working. The shift to home working at the start of the pandemic was necessarily speedy. But that meant little time for workspaces at home to be set up, leaving lots of employees working from the sofa or kitchen table.

Creating a dedicated and comfortable workspace is crucial to maintaining a healthy body and mind, yet the right equipment can be expensive to buy. Aside from the usual expenses employees can claim while home working, employers could think about helping kit out their employees’ home offices.

During lockdown at Simplyhealth, we’ve offered a £200 kit allowance where colleagues can claim back the costs of chairs, desks, monitors, keyboards etc., to help those who are new to home working.

Improving connectivity

Throughout this period, we’ve heavily relied on technology to keep us connected. However, competing for bandwidth with home-working partners or Netflix-streaming kids, can lead to frustrating problems when trying to access emails, online meetings or save work. Similarly, some employees might live in areas where mobile phone signal is weak, adding to the challenge.

As our latest wellbeing research with the CIPD shows, 70% of organisations cite stress caused by technology failure, as a negative effect of technology on wellbeing. Employers could help alleviate some of this stress by providing financial help with upgrading broadband speeds or buying additional routers and signal boosters.

Access to financial wellbeing support

Sadly, many people have suffered job losses or have been furloughed during this time, which can put a significant strain on family finances. The relationship between money and mental health is a clear one, causing stress and sometimes more serious concerns like anxiety and depression.

This is why, alongside offering solutions like allowances, it’s really important to signpost to services that can help. Agencies like StepChange and the Money Advice Service provide free guidance for things like budget planning and debt management, which can help employees take some practical steps forward.

For more on financial wellbeing, take a look at our guide to addressing financial worries in the workplace.

This article is provided by Simplyhealth.

Financial wellbeing is one of the key themes at this years’ virtual Employee Wellbeing Congress. View the full agenda and register here to attend.

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