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These are the UK’s new expectations on work benefits

By Thomas Goodman at MyJobQuote

Now the world is returning to normal, there is a shift in what employees expect from their perks – from flexible working to wellness initiatives and money towards their home office renovations. Below, Thomas Goodman at MyJobQuote notes some of the most popular perk expectations from workers.

Pet-friendly offices
One of the biggest results of lockdown was the puppy boom, where it is estimated that 3.2 million households bought a pet in 2020. “As many employees are returning to their workspace, there is a much higher demand for dog-friendly offices than ever before, as workers don’t want to leave their new pandemic pet at home,” Goodman explains.  “Especially with the costs involved in investing in doggy daycare and dog-sitting services, many workers would prefer to bring their dogs into the office and work with them.”

Goodman advises that providing dog-friendly office space has multiple benefits, including a boost in productivity “working with dogs is proven to improve office morale and reduce worker’s stress, which directly results in a boost in productivity.”

Home office build loan
As numerous companies have gotten rid of their office, some are offering an office build loan instead of the more typical season ticket loan. “A common perk for companies, especially in central locations, is to provide a season ticket loan where the work pays for the employees train or bus ticket for the year, and the employee pays this back in instalments throughout the year,” Goodman notes. “This has always been a welcome perk for many, as it means they don’t need to pay a large lump sum upfront. Now that there is no need to invest in season tickets, companies are instead loaning the amount for home office renovations so their employees can work productively in the comfort of their own home.”

Employees appreciate working in a productive environment and have struggled during the pandemic with creating the perfect balance between work and their private life. Having the ability to carve out a dedicated workspace means they can work productively during their working hours yet are able to “clock out” at the end of the day.

Wellness initiative
To say it has been a stressful year would be a huge understatement, with lockdown and isolation forcing us apart from our loved ones. This explains why in the past year there has been a huge focus on wellness and mindfulness. “It has been difficult for both employers and employees to remain mindful when working remotely,” Goodman explains. “The lack of face-to-face communication with colleagues and managers, blurred boundaries between work and personal time and feeling overwhelmed with hitting goals has meant employees feel more burnt out than ever before.”

Even if employees are working remotely, they still deserve and should expect wellness initiatives that will result in happier and more productive teams. “A good example of a popular wellness initiative is a fitness allowance, which allows employees to sign up to their local gym, do fitness classes and even cover the cost of at-home workout equipment,” Goodman advises. “Another wellness initiative is open communication between employees and managers. One to one communication allows employees to communicate any concerns they may have with senior management. Subscriptions to meditation support, with paid-for apps or even classes, also allows employees to communicate their stress and get any help they require.”

Workspace home allowance
Working from home has seen many creative desk setups, from the kitchen table to portable desks on our sofas or beds. However, this setup is proving detrimental to our productivity, health, and morale. “Although working from home allows for flexibility, the line between work and our private lives has blurred considerably,” Goodman explains. “While at first there was a feeling of novelty with working from home, as many as 69% have reported burnout symptoms, as they now find it harder to relax outside of work hours.”

If working from home full time, or even just hybrid working, becomes the norm then employees expect not only their equipment delivered but also an allowance to upgrade their workspace. “A prescriptive set up to each individual is required. For example, if someone lives in a small apartment or a flatshare, then a high-tech desk and computer chair simply won’t work for them. Folding desks, standing desks even tray desks, which allow proper posture while working helps employees feel more productive when working from home.”

Money towards bills
Employers must be transparent in communicating what employees are entitled to with regards to money they could claim back since working from home. Firstly, Goodman notes that if you have worked from home at any point in the past tax year, then you are entitled to claim tax relief. “Contact HMRC and check you paid the correct amount of tax, as you may be entitled to either a reduction or even a refund.” Goodman advises.

An employer can also reimburse additional costs which occurred while working from home. “Many paid more on their household bills due to spending more time at home and subsequently using more energy. Employers can make this up by covering the additional costs working from home, including heating, lighting, and internet costs.”

Flexible/Hybrid working
Productivity levels have seen a massive 58% increase with teams working from home, with many reporting fewer distractions and less stressful mornings. As companies are returning to the office, employees have gotten used to the flexibility when there isn’t a need to commute or book time off to pick up sick children from school. Employees expect this flexibility to continue, as long as their productivity levels remain the same.