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While the number of people doing at least some of their work remotely continues to be on the rise (according to Bureau of Labor statistics, this number rose from 19 percent of American workers in 2003 to 22 percent in 2016), fully remote companies remain in the minority. Remote jobs may be the future, but the corporate world at large hasn’t quite gotten there. That being said, there are plenty of remote companies doing great work without physical offices. Since these companies are on the vanguard of what it means to work, it’s no surprise they tend to offer some pretty unique perks and benefits to their employees—above and beyond the built in perk of being able to work from home (or anywhere else). Here’s a look at some of our favorite remote companies, and the kind of cutting edge benefits they use to put their employees in a position to succeed.
Zapier is a fully distributed company with over 130 employees who work remotely from more than 15 countries. Zapier’s web-based service allows users to integrate individual web applications into a seamless, unified platform—for instance, being able to automatically copy new Dropbox files to Google Drive or receive new Gmail emails directly in Slack. With a company mission of automating the boring and tedious aspects out of daily jobs, Zapier’s team reflects the “work-smarter-not-harder” spirit of working remotely. And as if that weren’t enough, Zapier offers their employees some of the best job perks going (along with an honest assessment of their perceived downsides and how they can be overcome).
Notable Perks and Benefits:
- 14 Weeks of Parental Leave
Yes, Zapier offers a staggering 14 weeks of paid parental leave to any new parents on their remote team. Considering the bleak landscape for parental leave at many American companies, this is a huge bonus for job seekers concerned with work-life balance and work-family conflict.
- Unlimited Paid Time Off
Zapier encourages their employees to take whatever amount of time off they need each year to stay productive. This means there are no limits to paid time off, and in fact the company encourages employees to take at least two weeks a year.
- Delocation Cost Reimbursement
If you live in the overpriced Bay Area and you’d like to keep working in tech (but from a financially saner, remote location outside of a major tech city), Zapier will reimburse up to $10,000 of your “delocation” costs. This program currently applies only to people moving AWAY from the Northern California Bay Area and must be claimed within the first three months of moving. Recipients of this program are also asked to commit to a year of working remotely on the Zapier team.
Help desk software company HelpScout employs a remote team of 75 people working from more than 50 cities in over 12 countries. HelpScout co-founder Nick Francis attributes the company’s remote success to going all-in with a “remote first” approach. This doesn’t mean putting the remote work business model over all others, it means that—if a business is going to offer remote positions—it’s best served by embracing a fully remote team. Flexibility is the hallmark of fully distributed companies and 100 percent remote jobs, so it’s no surprise that the HelpScout’s perks and benefits reflect its flexible culture.
Notable Perks and Benefits:
- Personal Development Stipend
HelpScout gives it’s remote team members an annual stipend of up to $1,800 to “improve their craft.” Conferences, classes, books, software? Sign yourself up and HelpScout will foot the bill.
- “Work Anywhere” Support
As long as you have at least four hours of overlap with HelpScout’s remote team you can choose to either work at HelpScout’s Boston-based office or from anywhere else. HelpScout flies new hires to their Boston location for on-boarding and will either purchase home office equipment or help pay for a co-working space. HelpScout also provides every remote team member with a 27” display Mac laptop (or equivalent hardware) and will purchase any additional software or hardware required for work.
- Flexible Vacation and Paid Parental Leave
HelpScout encourages their employees to take time off whenever they need it and offers 12 weeks of paid parental leave for remote team member who has or adopts a baby, and four weeks of paid leave for partners.
Olark is a fully distributed live chat software company with a distinct company value system. Using the acronym C.H.A.M.P.S., Olark bases its company culture on the pillars of, “Chill out, Help each other grow, Assume good faith, Make it happen, Practice empathy, and Speak your mind.” Olark brings the best out of its virtual teams by giving its remote workers the space to recharge, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and ultimately stay happy, chill, and productive.
Notable Perks and Benefits:
- Unplugged Vacation Bonus
Olark offers its remote workers a $1,000 bonus for taking at least five days of their vacation and not checking in with the company during that time off. Yes, that’s a cash bonus on top of paid vacation time for actually taking your paid vacation time and making the most of it. Fellow remote workers who have a hard time logging off can see how this incentive can force some well needed time really away from work.
- Charitable Donation Matching
Not all perks have to revolve around kicking back or doing things for ourselves. Sometimes passion for a cause or charity can reignite our professional passion as well, which makes Olark’s charitable notion matching a unique way to boost remote team morale, above and beyond the usual time off and Xbox in the break room. Charities the Olark donation matched in 2017 include the ACLU, Council on American Islamic Relations, Planned Parenthood, the National Resources Defense Council, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
- Flexible Scheduling, Internet/Coworking Stipends, and 12 Weeks of Paid Parental Leave
Olark is a champion of flexible scheduling, with a team made up of around 40 remote workers from locations around the world. Olark jobs can feature full-time and part-time schedules, with flexible telecommuting options. Olark also offers stipends for internet access and coworking spaces, as well as 12 weeks of parental leave, including adoption.
Buffer is a social media management company that lets users schedule posts, analyze performance, and manage their social media accounts all on one platform. Buffer is also a fully distributed company of around 70 remote workers from all over the globe. As a remote team, Buffer puts a premium on encouraging connections between team members despite not being face-to-face, as well as maintaining health and well-being—something that can often fall by the wayside doing remote work (where you can easily fall into the trap of working too much and not taking care of yourself). This culture is reflected directly in some of Buffer’s unique benefits for employees.
Notable Perks and Benefits
- Reading, Sleeping, and Exercise
Keeping mentally active by reading, getting enough sleep, and getting that all-important movement during the day are the tenets of Buffer’s focus on well-being, and the company equips each of their remote workers with the tools to do all three of these things. Every Buffer employee receives a free Jawbone UP (a device that tracks your sleep, exercise, and daily steps) and a Kindle Paperwhite with access to as many free Kindle books as you want. These books can include any genre or topic. Giving employees a direct way to stay healthy is a big step toward establishing a solid culture of work-life balance, and—taking it a step further—Buffer has recently extended this program to family members of employees as well.
- Expense-Paid Company Retreats
Buffer hosts regular, all expense-paid company retreats for their entire remote team as a way of strengthening connections between employees who otherwise don’t get a lot of in-person face time. These retreats have taken place at locations as far flung as Lake Tahoe, Thailand, Australia, and South Africa—reflecting the global nature of remote work.
- Minimum Vacation Requirement
While Buffer offers unlimited vacation time to its employees, the company has found that it’s sometimes hard to get employees to take advantage of that time. Enter minimum vacation requirements. Buffer has augmented its vacation policy by adding a requesting its employees to take a minimum of 15 paid vacation days each year, making sure they actually take advantage of their time and move closer to the that perfect mix of work-life balance.
MeetEdgar is a social media scheduling platform that has been a 100 percent remote company since day one. The company was bootstrapped by its founder Laura Roeder who started off as a team of one, and evolved into a fully distributed team of 24 remote workers from across the US and Canada. MeetEdgar is committed to building diversity on their remote team, creating an inclusive work environment, and using the power of flexible, remote work to get there. All of this is evident in their comprehensive employee benefits that are designed to help remote workers from all backgrounds focus on their work and thrive, while also maintaining self-care and wellbeing.
Notable Perks and Benefits:
- Internet/Coworking Space/MacBooks
MeetEdgar provides full time remote workers with up to around $100 a month toward internet access, around $300 a month for coworking space, and new MacBooks that become property of the employee after six months.
- Yearly Conferences
MeetEdgar encourages remote workers to attend one conference a year with costs covered by the company. This includes conference tickets, travel expenses, and lodging, and time away from work to attend the conference doesn’t require using paid time off.
- House Cleaning
Yes, house cleaning. Since many remote workers are drawn to remote work as a way to balance responsibilities like parenting or another kinds of caretaking, we’re often expected to maintain domestic duties on top of our paid work. As a former homemaker turned remote worker, I can tell you it’s not possible to do both well at the same time. MeetEdgar understands this difficulty, and covers the cost of a monthly house cleaning for its employees. This includes the entire house, not just your remote workspace.
Scott Morris is Skillcrush's staff writer and content producer. Like all the members of Skillcrush's team, he works remotely (in his case from Napa, CA). He believes that content that's worth reading (and that your audience can find!) creates brands that people follow. He's experienced writing on topics including jobs and technology, digital marketing, career pivots, gender equity, parenting, and popular culture. Before starting his career as a writer and content marketer, he spent 10 years as a full-time parent to his daughters Veronica and Athena.