Working from Home, Pay and Benefits – Your Questions Answered 

Working from Home

One benefit that came out of the pandemic was recognising that much office work can be done from home. Many people appreciate the extra time and flexibility that working from home adds to life, wanting a degree of continuation, with most employers willing to accommodate.

But there are new challenges now, flexible working is more than just ‘working from home’. You can handle all these challenges by focusing on the Four Ms:

  • Managers – Train and support managers to give them the work planning and people skills needed to implement flexible working confidently and fairly.
  • Measurement – Measure progress towards all business targets, particularly women’s career progress against working patterns. Track the sense of belonging of new hires, listen to their feedback on what works and does not work, and act on it. Listen to and track engagement and retention across all non-office-based staff. 
  • Men – Keep an eye on your men’s working patterns. Are they working more flexibly or back on site more than women? Is there any read-across from working patterns to gendered work allocation?
  • Messaging – What you learn needs to be shared and communicated effectively, so leaders, managers and staff understand how the new hybrid world will work in your organisation, for the benefit of all.

Your Pay and Benefits Questions Answered

With working practices changing almost unrecognisably over the last two years, pay and benefits practices will also change. These questions were posed to industry experts in a recent People Management magazine article, with their (edited) responses:

How much enhanced maternity/paternity pay should we offer to remain competitive?

Companies in certain sectors are now competing with non-traditional competitors, an example being a UK bank competing for tech talent. So, their review to attract and retain is heavily based on maternity/paternity leave.

The business case for going above and beyond statutory should lie somewhere between motivating and retaining employees, being a good employer, and affordability. Consider what kind of employer you want to be and how to reflect this in your policies.

Most people now expect flexible or remote working – is it still worth offering as a ‘benefit’? 

Home working doesn’t equal flexible working – job shares, part-time and compressed hours will also help attract and retain talent.

All employees, regardless of whether they can work remotely in their role or not, should benefit from greater flexibility and choice. Flexible, hybrid and remote working should still be advertised as part of the overall job offer. Always be upfront with potential candidates about the options available.

Flexible working can support employees with their mental wellbeing, their ability to balance work and family commitments, or other personal circumstances. Showing that you support flexible working as part of the package is positive for existing and potential future employees.

Weigh up business needs and employee contracts when deciding on the extent of flexibility offered. Policies should balance what is practical and expected, and what the market is doing.

More companies are offering family-friendly benefits like fertility treatment. Is this worth considering, and how do we get it right?

A core component of any wellbeing strategy, the recent emergence of providers in this space has been positive with a strong take-up.

To get it right, carry out due diligence on the providers to work out how it aligns to your existing wellbeing strategy, how it can be delivered and how it would be communicated effectively. Consult with your employees on their needs and contact organisations who have implemented these benefits for their impartial advice.

Some staff have asked whether we can pay their commuting costs now they’re required to come into the office three days per week. Are we obliged to cover this?

If the contract of employment states that the primary place of work is the office, you’re not obliged to fund the work commute. If employees are on home-based contracts, then travel to an office would fall under the travel policy for reimbursement.

Currently, the cost effectiveness of commuting is being challenged, with once valuable benefits such as season ticket loans now holding little value. 

How should organisations set pay bands now that geographical differences (e.g. London weighting) don’t matter as much and we’re hiring people who are remote only? 

It’s unlikely that existing staff will have their location top-up removed, but new staff might be offered a salary that reflects the new realities of remote working.

Offering new staff a salary to reflect remote working could have ethical and legal consequences, especially if some jobs are done by overseas workers. Pay is higher in certain UK locations, such as London or Edinburgh, because of the job types that tend to be located there. Pay there would only fall if these jobs were spread more evenly across the country, something that flexible working may facilitate, but the ‘going rate’ for the job is likely to remain broadly the same.

With the increase in working from home, should we be contributing towards people’s internet and heating bills?

The cost of living is a huge issue for many employees. You’re not obliged to contribute to energy bills. However, as part of your organisation’s financial wellbeing strategy, consider offering advice to employees on how to reduce their energy bills – helpful both financially and environmentally.

It’s hard to award bonuses after such a difficult two years, but we want staff to feel valued. What could we do instead?

Be upfront with your staff about your organisation’s financial position and why bonuses are not possible. Early and clear communication can make a huge difference to how people feel and react to news like this, while giving people the chance to ask any questions. Consider offering non-financial benefits, such as flexible working, additional leave, educational or wellbeing workshops or social activities.

Other ways in which you can make people feel valued could include ‘thank you’ notes, public recognition, and gift vouchers. Ask your employees what benefits they would value, like early Friday finishes, birthdays off, or learning and development opportunities.

Some employees are (rightly) upset at the firm’s executive salaries. How can we rectify the huge discrepancies?

Organisations should be open and transparent about how pay is determined for all staff to help put CEO pay in context, as crude comparisons between figures are unlikely to be useful. An organisation’s financial wellbeing strategy should outline its commitment to paying a fair and liveable wage, and any opportunities to share in the success of the organisation, such as employee shares or profit sharing. It’s worth re-communicating this information with your staff.

Take-up of some perks we offer (like cycle to work) have dropped since the pandemic. What’s the best way of reassessing what we’re offering and avoiding upsetting the people who use them?

It’s good practice to review your benefits package regularly to ensure the business is getting the best value for money and you’re offering benefits that suit your staff.

Run a staff survey to discover which benefits are being used or not, and which would be most valued. This provides supporting evidence for decisions to withdraw benefits that are no longer financially viable or wanted by the majority of your staff. Decisions to withdraw benefits should be clearly communicated to your employees.

We’re keen to be transparent and put salaries on all our job adverts, but are concerned about highlighting discrepancies. Is this a good idea?

Displaying salary on job adverts is good practice. It shows that you’re being upfront, reduces the risk of pay gaps and meets younger generations’ growing calls for openness and transparency. Some employers might not wish to disclose salaries, because of commercial sensitivity or scaring off candidates with a real passion for the job. However, on balance the pros outweigh the cons and transparency is vitally important for businesses.

Do prioritise addressing any discrepancies. Pay and benefits vary in roles that cannot be compared like for like – a senior lawyer earns multiples more than a junior lawyer. But, reading that your new teammate is being rewarded significantly better for exactly the same role is a recipe for disaster.

Initiatives are in place to reduce our gender pay gap, but being a slow process it looks like we’re not working hard enough to fix it. What else could we be doing?

Addressing gender pay gaps needs genuine commitment from senior leaders. Clearly communicate the reasons behind any gaps with staff and external stakeholders, and what steps you’re taking to reduce them.

With two-thirds of workers thinking their last pay rise was unfair, highlighting that there are initiatives in place and consistent reporting on progress, including the reasons behind failure to meet targets, can really help people to understand the work that is going on.

The Government’s advice on actions to close the gender pay gap is worth reviewing.


  1. Hard-Won Gains – Sarah Jackson OBE, People Management
  2. Your Pay and Benefits Questions Answered – Eleanor Whitehouse, People Management