The New Home Office Era, Part Two: How Companies are Upgrading Home Office Benefits

    Posted by TASC Large Markets on Oct 27, 2020 10:00:00 AM


    In our previous post we discussed the financial challenges facing remote employees and the increasingly urgent need to address those challenges with some form of assistance. In this post we’ll look at the kinds of assistance being offered by forward-thinking businesses and how you can update and upgrade your home office benefit to keep your organization competitive now and in the post-pandemic future.

    Remote work isn’t going away

    First, a quick reminder of how different that “new normal” promises to be. Remote work was already growing in popularity pre-pandemic. COVID-19 dramatically accelerated that trend. Now, according to one survey, 52% of employees currently working remotely hope to continue doing so post-pandemic.1 Working from home is here to stay. For some workers, there’s literally no going back.

    As recently as June, approximately 37% of remote workers still said they had no chance of having business-related expenses reimbursed by their employer.2 In the past few months, however, the movement is toward greater support. A survey of more than 2000 HR leaders found that 71% had begun investing in the tools and technologies to help employees collaborate remotely, and 42% had either enhanced their financial support for remote workers or were actively considering enhancements, including help with phone, Internet and home office expenses.3 Another survey found that one in five U.S. companies were helping employees pay for home office equipment.4 A third survey reported that 14% of companies are paying for ergonomic office furniture and more than 10% were reimbursing employees for home internet service.5

    How other companies are structuring their home office support

    A number of companies are giving employees a set allowance to help defray the financial burden of setting up a comfortable and productive home office. Shopify, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the software company Basecamp give remote workers $1000 to set up their home offices. Indeed, the employment company, has reimbursed employees up to $500 for standing desks, chairs, and lighting.6 Other companies offer more limited home office setup stipends of $200 to $300. Another approach combines a one-time set-up allowance with either complete or partial ongoing reimbursement for the employee’s home internet service and mobile phone service.

    Some companies have tight restrictions around how the money can be used. Some will reimburse only for office supplies. Others expand the scope to include furniture such as desks and chairs. As noted above, some also include periodic allowances for business use of the employee’s phone and home internet service. Benefits can be customized to include money to defray the costs of other home office expenses, such as higher utility bills.


    What should you do?

    Now is the time to look at your long-term remote work policy and put together a home office program aimed at maximizing remote productivity, keeping employees satisfied, and avoiding hard feelings and potential future lawsuits. Here are a few suggestions:

    Take a look at what you’ve done—or haven’t done—so far
    Are there expenses you realize you ought to have covered? You might consider paying those retroactively in order to show your good faith and avoid accusations of wage/hour violations.

    Put it in writing
    Have a written and detailed statement of your home office policy. Give examples of things you’ll cover and things you won’t. Include how and when expenses have to be submitted in order to be reimbursed. Formulate a policy on ownership of the purchased items if and when the employee no longer works for your company. The clearer you make it for everyone, the smoother compliance will be. Then make sure all employees and supervisors understand the policy, and that everyone signs their agreement to abide by it.

    Be firm but not rigid
    Having a fixed reimbursement amount shouldn’t keep you from considering special exceptions. Since every employee’s home work situation is different, some may need more help—or more specialized help—than others. (This policy of openness to additional support might also help prove the reasonableness of your policy should a disgruntled employee file a complaint.)

    Make sure you can deliver
    A third party administrator like TASC can help you set up and administer a home office benefit so that it will be easier for you and your employees.


    Editor’s Note: TASC offers a Home Office Account and separately, an Office Supplies Expense Reimbursement Account, from more than 50 benefit offerings that can be instantly configured into custom plans that meet employee needs; where they are in life.



    1. “Is It Time for Employers to Reimburse Remote Workers’ Expenses?” SHRM, September 2020:
    2. “Adjusting to remote work,” Nulab, July 2020:
    3. “Is It Time for Employers to Reimburse Remote Workers’ Expenses?” SHRM, September 2020:
    4. “Working from home? You might be able to expense a new desk,” CNBC, June 2020:
    5.  Ibid.
    6. Ibid.