In recent posts we have seen how SMEs have run a variety of initiatives and programmes to help their employees’ wellbeing whilst working from home. We now take a look at Buffer, the international social media business, which can provide something of a working from home best practice example, given its employees have been home-based long before the pandemic struck.
The team at Buffer has worked remotely since the company was formed over a decade ago; it now boasts 85 team members working in 15 different countries around the world.
Benefits boost wellbeing
Because the team is remote, Buffer prides itself on offering a wide range of benefits in its package to support employees in their various locations. The company offers flexible working, which includes unlimited holidays for all employees, and generous rights around disability and family leave. Buffer also covers the cost for healthcare for team members and family members in all countries despite the differing costs. Employees also have access to an online digital therapy service called Modern Health, which offers stress reduction tools and coached programs on subjects like relationships, inclusion and belonging and financial wellness.
Working benefits include encouraging employees to work where they’re happiest by paying for co-working space or coffee shop budgets for those who prefer to work in cafes. One of the most unique benefits is that employees are provided with a learning and development stipend, worth up to $240 per year to support ongoing self-improvement. For example, this could be spent on online courses, classes or digital news subscriptions relating to any topic employees would like to learn about. In addition, employees can receive unlimited Kindle and Audible books and all new-starters are gifted with a Kindle to support their education.
Since working from home requires good equipment, Buffer covers the cost of laptops for employees and has a three-year renewal cycle, meaning that computers are replaced for newer models every cycle. Employees can also expense up to $200 per year on computer accessories to help them work better like wireless keyboards or laptop stands. In order to keep the company culture alive, Buffer pays for a company retreat once a year so that employees can get together face-to-face for a week and let their hair down. There is also a budget for mini retreats throughout the year for employees who live closer together.
Four-day weeks and dealing with tricky times
Buffer first trialled a four-day work week earlier this year, and through surveys found that staff experienced higher autonomy, lower stress and greater work happiness as a result. After anecdotal feedback from their team, Buffer decided to trial the four-day work week until the end of 2020, with the main aim of helping employees manage any extra stress caused by COVID-19. Overall, employees have found that working for four days rather than five helps give them focus and allows them time to recover. One employee remarked:
“This last month has been incredible when it comes to finding more time to look after myself. I feel a lot more productive when it comes to the work I do and the creeping feeling of burnout towards the end of the week has gone completely. If anything I find myself more focused than I’ve ever been.”
Buffer CEO Joel Gascoigne’s approach to wellbeing during the pandemic has been to reassure employees that their health is the priority: “The companies that will come out of this with their integrity intact, and in the best possible situation to bounce back, are going to be the ones that put people over profits. This should always be the case, but even more now than ever.”
We hope you found this working from home best practice example of use, and it has provided some ideas about how you can support your staff who are currently working from home. We have helped a growing number of businesses with their staff wellbeing during recent months – some of our popular services can be found here.