The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work Stipends

The only perk that solves for the unique needs of all of your remote employees.

Recently, an industry report found that over 70% of professionals work remote at least one day a week. With the insurgence of remote work, comes a need to treat your remote workers with the same level of care as your on-site ones, regardless of distance.

At Compt, we help tons hybrid-remote and fully-remote companies offer perks that all of their employees love, while reducing the administrative burden on HR.

The most ideal methods of offering perks for remote employees for team members and HR alike is through a perk allowance or a lifestyle spending account.

That's why we developed this guide to everything you need to know about the number one perk for remote employees: perk stipends.

Here's what is covered in this guide:

  1. What is a remote stipend
  2. Examples of remote work stipends
  3. Benefits of remote work stipends
  4. How to create one for your organization

What is a remote work stipend?

First, a definition:

A remote work stipend is a sum of money given to employees for them to purchase on office equipment, coworking space, coffee, and anything else that makes their remote work locations comfortable and successful.

Further details on what they are:

  • Stipends can be given out on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual basis. 
  • It is comprised of taxable and non-taxable items. Taxes can be grossed up by the employer or employees can cover the taxes

Three Examples of Remote Work Stipends

When setting up a remote work stipend, there are two approaches. You can set up a stipend to support your remote employees so that you're supporting them equally as your on-site team. Or if you're a fully (or mostly) remote company, you can set up all sorts of stipends to support your remote team members since offering on-site perks isn't a possibility.

Below are three examples highlighting the two unique approaches.

1. Webflow, a company with 70% of their team remote around the globe.

They provide three stipends for their team:

  • $250/month for remote workers
  • $200/month (for everyone) health & wellness stipend
  • $1,000/year (for everyone) continuous learning stipend

Learn more about how we helped Webflow make perk allowances possible at their company.

2. Basecamp, an almost-fully remote company. 

They offer the following perk allowances for their team members:

  • $100/month coworking space stipend
  • $100/month fitness allowance
  • $100/month massage allowance
  • $1,000/year continuing education allowance
  • $1,000/year matching charitable gifts stipend

To learn more about these in-depth and the thinking behind them, check out their post on employee benefits at Basecamp.

3. Buffer, a fully-remote company.

  • $200/month for "Working Smarter" stipend for coffee shop working purchases
  • $500/teammate for home office set-up
  • $200/year for tech/office needs
  • Internet reimbursement stipend
  • $850/year continuous learning stipend

To learn more about these perks and their budget vs spent in 2019, check out this in-depth post about Buffer's perk stipend audit.

There are many many more examples of companies doing this successfully. If you want to talk through what our most successful customers are doing, we’re happy to advise. Click here to talk with a perk stipend expert.

Benefits of health & wellness stipends

Many companies from are turning to stipends to solve for their employees in more meaningful ways. 

First, the tactical benefits:

Better perks:

  • Your team gets access to a broader base of benefits without needing to increase the overall budget. Because the pool of money is distributed to people, they pick what’s best for them instead of picking a few perks that everyone gets.  
  • Help employees get what they need when they need it, regardless of where they live. 

Increased efficiency:

Decrease the administrative burden on HR by avoiding vendor management in various locations, and/or eliminates the need to manage various software. 

Most organizations can agree, perks offered the traditional way wastes money on two fronts: 1. spending money on perks that go unused and 2. spending valuable people time on picking, piloting, purchasing, managing, and communicate perks. With stipends, all of that is cut out and everyone gets what they need when they need it -- no wasted money or time. 

IRS compliance:

If you use a software like Compt, you can also ensure 100% IRS compliance which has become a big focus for people leaders and finance teams everywhere.

Strategic benefits:

  • Align with culture/values: Can be adapted to offer all perks or support company values like a continuous learning stipend or a health and wellness stipend.
  • Scalable: Using a perk stipend allows you to easily scale up (or down) a perks program,

Additional benefits: 

  • Because they get the money to pick what’s best for them, they spend more mindfully. Instead of requesting perks willy nilly, people are more thoughtful about what they spend their money on.
  • Perk allowances enhances the connection between employers and their team because they infuse trust. When people get to exercise autonomy and are treated that they’re the experts of their own world, the relationship deepens and becomes richer.

Learn Even More About the Benefits of Perk Allowances & Lifestyle Spending Accounts

Download the free eBook to find out why perk stipends and lifestyle spending accounts have become the most common new perk.

Here’s how to set up a remote work stipend:

1. First determine how much you want to offer your team members, within what timeframe.

Some examples include offering $100/month, $500/quarterly, or $2,000 annually. If you are interested in getting insight into what the most successful companies do, we can share some insider information. You can also decide you want to offer a stipend only to remote team members, or one to them in addition to what you offer all employees.

 2. Secondly, select your perk spending categories.

In the examples above, you'll notice that they most often surround a category of spending like health and wellness, continuous learning, family, or travel.

Doing it this way allows you to create a custom program for your team, and then allows 100% personalization for them. 

If you're looking for ideas for spending categories beyond a remote stipend, consider tying them to your company's culture, goals, or important culture initiatives.

3. Once you have this information determined, now it’s time to decide how you’ll manage the process.

Your options include:

  • Managing the perk allowance manually. If you choose this option, be prepared to set up a process to track purchases, receipts, balances, approval and paid perks, as well as rejections or ones which need further review. Consider using Google forms to track submissions, excel or Google sheets to track progress, and be sure to create a process to track the nontaxable vs taxable (for IRS compliance).
  • Choose a software to help you manage this. Options like Compt can help communicate your programs to your team members, track balances and spending, and scale the process for you which eliminates a large portion of work, and provides valuable metrics. Plus, Compt is 100% IRS compliant which makes you and your finance team's job much, much easier.

Ready to learn more about Compt?

We help people-first companies like yours to build, streamline, and scale their employee perk allowances. You get all of the personalization, without any of the headache of managing them.

Our customers are the best, and here's a few quotes on what they have to say about us:

"I'm SO excited to use Compt! In 2020 I am going to actually attend a holiday party AND have my hair and nails done rather than all of the manual stuff I did in 2019 to manage wellness stipends in Expensify." - Toni, a new Compt customer. 
"We had 330 perk receipts submitted in the month of June. Just imagine if we tried to do this manually or use an expense software, then it would be going through finance, cost more money, and it also wouldn’t be an accurate line item. It’s just much easier to manage this way." Heather Doshay, Webfow. (Check out their case study here)

And below is a piece of (unsolicited) feedback we received from a customer of ours, Josie Joling.

compt testimonial
Ready to take the next step? Dip your toes in by scheduling a preliminary call with a Compt perk expert or request your personalized demo.

Talk to a Perks Expert

You've got questions; we've got answers.

Let's connect to see how a wellness stipend would work at your company, and how it can help your company achieve even greater success.