05 Aug WFH Stipend? How To Best Use It.
As COVID-19 catapulted us out of our offices and into our homes, many companies have grappled with our new work reality of working from home (WFH). Some companies have allowed employees to bring home items from their office (think monitors, keyboards, mice, laptop risers, and in some cases, even the chair), while others have negotiated and passed along corporate discounts for their employees. But as WFH looks like it is here for the long haul, more and more companies have either issued or are considering issuing a WFH stipend to employees.
WFH Stipend? What’s that?
In short, a WFH stipend is a benefit that is issued for the sole purpose of improving WFH set-ups. So, if your company has issued you a WFH stipend, you may be overjoyed for the extra assistance. But you may be wondering how to best use it. And if you are responsible for issuing a stipend, you may also be wondering how to best do that. We’ve got you covered!
If you are on the receiving end of a WFH, here’s what you want to consider.
Your Current Set-up: First things first. How and where are you currently working? Are you working at a desk? Dining room table? Kitchen counter? Couch and coffee table? On your bed? Are you comfortable in this set up? If not, what exactly is problematic?
It is important to assess your current set up and to see if it allows for the following:
1. Does your current set up promote healthy posture? Are you able to sit or stand with an upright and balanced posture? Are you comfortable when you are working?
2. Does your current chair provide support? If you are sitting while working, does your current seat provide back support? Are your feet able to reach the floor? Is it height adjustable? If not, can you add height with a pillow or a cushion?
3. Do you have to reach for your keyboard or mouse? If you find yourself reaching up, down, forward, or to the side in order to use your keyboard or mouse, then you have to ask why?
4. Do you use your laptop as is, or with an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse? If you are using your laptop on your desk, table, lap, or wherever, this is a sure recipe to find yourself hunched over your laptop due to the low height of the monitor. You will fare much better if you raise your laptop monitor to eye level, or, plug your laptop into an external monitor and use an external keyboard and mouse.
Next up, before you go out and purchase anything, are there makeshift changes that you can make?
- Pillows & Towels are wonderful for providing back support, added height to your chair, making your seat cushion less deep as well as providing foot support if your feet are dangling when you sit.
- Books & Boxes make for great laptop and monitor risers, footrests, and even a makeshift standing desk set-up.
- Ironing Boards & Cookie Sheets are great to consider for adjustable and customized work surfaces. Ironing boards can provide you with an adjustable height desk for sitting or standing and cookie sheets (or any other thin flat material) can act as a lap desk so you can use your keyboard and mouse on your lap area. This works really well if your desktop or table is too high or if you find yourself working on the couch or a soft seat (lazy boy, bean bag chair etc.)
If you are going to make purchases, check out our WFH Low-Cost Equipment Guide.
You can also access more great resources on our WFH Downloads Page
If you are on the dispensing side of the Stipend, here are some things to consider:
- Stipend Amount: Set the amount in concert with your finance team and stick with what is realistic for your organization. Make sure your policy and messaging are crystal clear to employees about what it is for, how reimbursement or stipend issue works, and if past purchases can be applied to the stipend or if this from date of issue only and going forward.
- Provide Guidance: If possible, it’s best to create information about the stipend and to provide guidance to help everyone choose what they need and the pros and cons of product features. (See our free download materials). It is also critical to provide clear guidance on your company’s purchase policies (I.e., Self-Procurement? Company procures? Reimbursement policies, etc.)
- Education and Evals: We highly recommend offering education to employees that coincide with the announcement of the stipend. At the end of the day, the last thing you want are purchases being made that are not helpful (or worse, harmful), and remember, the best of equipment can be defeated by poor posture and habits.
- Working out Employee Discounts With Your Vendors: Whether or not you are able to provide a WFH stipend to employees, you may also want to consider working out employee discount rates with your equipment and furniture vendors that can be passed along to your employees for WFH savings!
We’d love to hear how your stipend experience has been!