These Are the Best Places for Parents Working Remotely, 2021-2022
These companies have the policies, benefits, and cultural practices that improve outcomes for remote working parents.
Fatherly and Scary Mommy are proud to introduce Parents@Work, a joint initiative designed to help organizations recruit, retain and support employees with kids. Based on a rigorous 148-point criteria, we created a certification program that evaluates companies on how their policies, benefits, and cultural practices improve outcomes for working parents. After careful consideration, we’re proud to introduce the Best Places For Remote Working Parents below. This honor roll, presented alphabetically, isn’t nearly exhaustive. We encourage any companies interested in getting certified to
While many companies scrambled to figure out how they could best support a remote workforce during the pandemic, the cloud-based financial services and human resources provider Alight Solutions was ahead of the curve. The company says that well before COVID-19 hit our shores, it set up a number of programs to make sure it’s supporting and taking care of its staff of nearly 10,000, regardless of wherever they happen to be working.
Remote employees can set up flexible hours to make sure they’re working at the times that make the most sense for them. They also have access to a wide variety of online resources, programs, and classes that range from fitness sessions, mental healthcare resources, and workshops through the company.
And, on top of everything else, Alight also adjusted its expectations for what employees would actually be able to deliver amidst all of the added pressure and stress of the pandemic. The company altered its performance review process to be more accommodating, reassured employees that they didn’t always need to sit around on camera during video calls, and made sure to enforce a work-life balance by scheduling any optional or networking company events during usual business hours.
Binder Dijker Otte (BDO), a global accounting firm based out of Belgium with American headquarters in Chicago, helps provide professional services including public accounting, tax prep, and financial consulting.
When the pandemic began, BDO offered financial support — and flexibility in terms of workplace expectations — to its employees BDO changed its performance review expectations to acknowledge the fact that everyone had to make a huge adjustment and that business couldn’t exactly continue on as usual.
“Day-to-day flex culture has been the most helpful resource throughout my career at BDO. As a working parent, this flexibility has allowed me to spend time with my family when I need to help in the “it’s due tomorrow” science project, attend a school function/zoom meeting or take my senior to her senior portrait photo shoot. Whichever the case may be, BDO’s focus on flexible working has allowed me to participate with my family while still meeting client commitments.” – Josy A.
Lots of BDO employees already worked from home before COVID-19 hit. The company says it drew on the expertise that those workers and their teams had already accumulated in order to help everyone else make the adjustment too. Alongside offering virtual resources, including training seminars and mental healthcare resources, BDO says it set up new programs to help working parents manage childcare while they continued to work remotely. BDO also encouraged managers to meet with their teams for one-on-ones about what kinds of help those employees actually needed from the company.
BDO provides virtual activities and classes to employees’ children to keep them busy and engaged while they’re cooped up so that parents have, at the very least, one fewer challenge to focus on during the day.
Given that CarGurus’ whole business model takes a traditionally in-person shopping experience and moves it to the internet, the company seems well-equipped to adjust to a world where so many people are staying home and working remotely.
The online car marketplace and search engine says that it already had flexible policies in place as far as leave is concerned. But now that working from home is the norm, the company also made sure to provide remote healthcare and other online wellness services like fitness programs to its roughly 750 employees.
Healthcare aside, CarGurus also hosts online webinars, and explicitly makes sure to schedule events during business hours so it doesn’t encroach on workers’ home lives. And many of these policies will likely persist longer than the pandemic — employees can expect any newfound flexibility to continue into the future.
CarGurus says that its HR department and its parents-focused employee resource group have regularly convened to find new ways to support the working parents on its team. Whether that’s through polls or more formal focus groups, CarGurus has worked to stay in touch with employees to make sure it’s helping them out in the ways they actually want to be supported instead of taking a guess at what employees might need.
The healthcare IT, software, and hardware provider Cerner acted quickly to get employees out of the office and set up to work from home, and now the company says it may never fully return to the way things were and are currently reviewing plans.
The company provides employees with access to family support programs, Bright Horizons and Back to Basics, that can help provide and coordinate childcare in the event kids are stuck home sick from school, school gets closed down, or for virtual education support.
Cerner offers telehealth and navigation services through HealthTap, a virtual healthcare company that provides virtual appointments with doctors and can help diagnose illnesses. But it also provides medical care at its campuses in Kansas City, Missouri and Malvern, Pennsylvania where employees can establish a primary care relationship with a comprehensive care team, and where if needed, and where they have access to a full-service pharmacy for prescription pickups. Virtual access to a member’s care team (including physicians, dietitians, and health coaches) is also provided.
Before employees started to work from home, they could take advantage of Cerner’s five onsite fitness centers. But when that was no longer safe, Cerner’s fitness specialists transitioned to offering online classes — for adults and children — so that employees could stay active and still access all of the perks they were used to without having to choose between fitness and personal safety. This model has proven so successful in increasing engagement that a dedicated on-demand and live class platform is launching this year for worldwide fitness access.
Citigroup, the fourth-largest bank in the United States with operations in another 159 countries, has done a lot in the past year to spin up its remote work.
Fort starters, Citi stepped up and invited employees to send their receipts for reimbursement on any home office supplies that they needed, helping employees turn their homes into comfortable, efficient offices, on the company’s dime.
Once they got set up, Citi offered a mix of global and region-specific virtual workshops and webinars to its remote workforce. And aside from the Citi-specific programs, the company also partnered with a third party that hosted even more virtual sessions.
Citi provides discounted tutoring for employees with kids at home while hosting educational camps and other sessions to keep their kids entertained and busy. It also helps connect employees and help coordinate “learning pods” for those who want to make sure their kids are still learning or taking classes in person.
In addition, Citi’s CEO Jane Fraser recently sent out a memo to all employees announcing that the company would be taking extra steps to prevent burnout and make work a little less stressful. The company banned internal video meetings on Fridays as a sort of soft start to the weekend, pivoted to only scheduling meetings during regular business hours, and reminded employees to take time away from work.
And in case employees don’t schedule time off themselves, Fraser created a new company holiday, “Citi Reset Day,” on May 28 to get the ball rolling. Above all else, these recent moves show that Citi took lessons from the earlier days of the pandemic to heart and that it’s committed to actually making the improvements and adjustments that will keep its team happy and productive.
As one of the “Big Four” global professional services networks, Deloitte helps businesses with consulting, taxes, and other financial services, counting most of the Fortune 500 among its customers. Deloitte is everywhere, and as such, its policies respect and serve remote workers, especially parents.
For several years now, Deloitte has offered competitive, gender-neutral benefits and perks to its employees, including lengthy time off for new parents bonding with their children. And now that everyone’s stuck at home anyway, Deloitte once again put in work to make sure it continues to offer staff members flexibility at work and support them as needed.
Part of that support includes making sure that employees can log off when they have to. Deloitte recently started to offer two extra weeks’ worth of paid time for personal reasons that might include childcare, elder care, mental health days, or whatever else employees might need to handle at the moment.
Deloitte also provides a generous package of financial resources for employees who might need an extra hand. The company provides $500 in the form of a disaster relief payment meant to enhance employees’ working-from-home battle stations. It also provides up to $3,000 in the form of additional dependent care payments for employees who need extra help taking care of their family members while they deal with all the extra pressures of life and work during a pandemic.
In addition to the benefits provided through Deloitte Cares, the company offers working parents and caregivers free and discounted virtual learning offerings for kids; guides for parents on how to talk to their children about the virus, keep them engaged, and maintain a sense of normalcy; and handbooks on how to make self-care a family priority. Deloitte also created a “Community of Parents” website to serve as a space for parents to access resources and share information.
You may not recognize the London-based adult beverage company Diageo, but you definitely know the drinks it makes under its long list of famous brands that includes Guinness, Johnny Walker, Captain Morgan, and Smirnoff.
Diageo opened up a new corporate headquarters in January 2020, which the company designed to have all sorts of new amenities including mothers’ rooms. But now that people are working from home, the company pivoted.
Diageo makes it clear that employees don’t always need to “show face” during video calls, and the company schedules optional or networking events during work hours instead of creeping into evening hours that employees should be spending offline with their families.
Diageo also launched a series of virtual events for employees and their families that it calls the capability series. Events include classes like cooking lessons, yoga sessions, and time management coaching. Then there’s also virtual game nights with events like company bingo.
The ecommerce and online bidding giant eBay has seen significant growth at a moment when everyone has been locked down and online shopping has become both a pastime and necessity. The 26-year-old company, primarily based out of San Jose, California has focused on treating its employees to a significant amount of virtual perks as they’ve transitioned to a remote working environment.
When the pandemic began, eBay launched new communication channels, such as their Together Wherever Slack channel, to keep employees abreast of company developments and to offer new resources, helping everyone adjust to their new lives juggling work, parenting, and making sense of COVID-19 all at once.
Aside from merely communicating what resources eBay offered to its employees, executives leaned into difficulties its employees were facing, hosting events like an International Women’s Day fireside chat to openly discuss the challenges facing working moms.
eBay provides employees with tons of health and wellness resources through companies like Cleo, Lyra, Grokker, Heal, and Vida. Those services also host workshops and provide coaching for parents managing finances, psychological wellness, personal and family fitness, and a huge variety of other topics all at once.
But sometimes, the best way to help people is to put cash in their pocket. As such, eBay has given employees two payments of $1,200 during the pandemic. Part of that, the company assumed, would go toward whatever supplies and equipment they needed to work from home, but eBay doesn’t seem to have imposed any strings or restrictions on how the money actually ended up getting spent, trusting employees to it in the ways that would help them the most.
In the early days of the pandemic, the social media giant Facebook was among the first major companies to suggest that working remotely might become a new norm rather than a temporary quirk of the times’ we’re living in.
Now, the company says its vision is to become the most forward-leaning company of its scale when it comes to working from home — and that it wants tens of thousands of its 52,500 US employees to transition into working remotely over the next five to ten years.
That will take serious work. But Facebook has already taken strides forward, like giving full-time employees an annual $2,000 stipend for any expenses related to setting up and maintaining a home office — a payout that stands above the one-time reimbursements that are more typically offered.
Putting money aside, Facebook quickly expanded its community offerings to remote workers as well, making sure that everyone could still be involved in the company’s culture no matter where they happened to be working from. Facebook created live and on-demand virtual events for employees as well as camps, classes, and games sessions for their kids.
Finally, Facebook expanded its local and in-person healthcare offerings to make sure remote workers can still get the care they need despite being far away from the clinic. The company offers virtual medical care through Teledoc, as well as mental healthcare through Lyra and discounted access to wellness apps like Calm and Headspace.
The healthcare staffing and talent management agency HealthCareSource truly shines as a company that went out of its way to make sure its roughly 250 employees and their families felt appreciated and supported throughout the pandemic.
Plenty of companies have acknowledged that, in an era when so many are working from home, kids are going to pop into the frame during video meetings, and that’s fine. But HealthCareSource went above and beyond to actually engage the families of its employees rather than making them feel like they had to dodge around on camera. For example, the company printed and gave out “Best Coworker Ever” t-shirts for kids to wear while their parents have video meetings, and the kids specifically have an open invitation to hang out and say hi.
That attitude, in which HealthCareSource embraces employees’ lifestyles and respects their work-life balances rather than imposing strict rules for how they have to work remotely, comes through across the rest of its programs too.
Even before the pandemic, employees were never expected to attend extra events unless they actually wanted to. Networking and other optional events are all scheduled during business hours, and company leadership has repeatedly reminded employees that they should feel free to skip them should they so desire. Such a pervasive respect for employees’ home lives, supported from the top down within HealthCareSource, serves as a new benchmark for the ways that companies can not only support and help out their staff but also preserve rather than encroaching on their work-life balances.
The hospitality sector has been hit so hard during the pandemic because of the very fact that so much of the industry requires an employee to be there, in-person. But Hilton has shown that there is no all or none with remote work, and has helped its workers to be as remote as possible in work and life.
When the pandemic began, Hilton expanded its already competitive health coverage to offer telehealth services to everyone on its health plan. On top of this, Hilton now also offers discounted virtual gym memberships, to help team members stay healthy while they’re working from home or otherwise avoiding in-person fitness centers.
The company also now provides increased levels of flexibility to its employees, changing some roles, including office jobs like sales support, that used to require in-person work to become permanently remote positions. Hilton also gave some employees more opportunities to take time away from work, set their own hours, and work shorter weeks as needed through its “SuperFlex” workforce model.
Unlike many of the companies on this list, Hilton has a much larger proportion of part-time and hourly employees compared to its salaried employees. In addition to offering part-time employees parental leave and health benefits, Hilton also offers a “first look” schedule 10 days in advance for all hotel Team Members, letting employees exchange shifts with co-workers to fit their plans and commitments outside of work. Predictable and flexible schedules are necessary for hourly workers to effectively schedule childcare, appointments, and the like — but they are hardly the norm. Hilton helps set the standard for how to support employees, regardless of if they’re salaried or hourly.
ICF Consulting, management consultants with offices around the world, specializes in future proofing organizations in areas like healthcare and public health, transportation infrastructure, and the environment.
Even before the pandemic, ICF Consulting instructed managers to work with their employees to find the remote or working-from-home arrangements that best suited them and their team. The company doesn’t have a formal policy in place for flexible hours, but only because the company has always prioritized flexibility to the point that it’s never needed to be spelled out.
Those programs, the company says, will persist and likely become even more accommodating as employees start to trickle back into their offices.
After COVID-19 hit, CEO John Wasson repeatedly sent out emails and company-wide communications to stress that he and the company were aware that people were struggling to balance everything at once and to explicitly acknowledge that overall productivity hadn’t declined and was still perfectly satisfactory. That top-down accountability and reminder stands to go a long way in reinforcing a more accommodating company culture going forward and making it clear to employees that they should feel comfortable actually taking advantage of the resources offered to them.
Meanwhile, ICF Consulting gives its employees access to benefits like fitness and other wellness programs, mental healthcare, and parenting resources.
The financial services corporation Mastercard recently took stock of the benefits, programs, and other perks it offers employees and decided to ramp them up. The company drastically improved its benefits and special perks on multiple occasions throughout 2020, especially when it came to how it treated the new parents and other workers on its team who were stuck at home.
Amongst the companies on our list, Mastercard offers one of the more generous backup care benefits — 20 days per dependent, per year. New parents can take advantage of an additional 10 days of care under the Infant Transition Care program. And that was before the pandemic. Once the pandemic began, Mastercard decided to grant its employees more leeway and provided resources to help them manage the added stress of life under lockdown.
Mastercard gave employees an extra 10 days off that they can tap into whenever they need time to care for a family member who caught COVID-19 or if they catch it themselves and need to recover.
Taking into consideration the need to support employees at work and at home, Mastercard rolled out a global l summer camps program for employees’ children, along with bringing in educators to help parents cope with virtual learning and providing access to tutoring services Employees could tap into resources from vendors like Revolution Prep, Varsity Tutors, and Marco Polo Learning.
It’s not exactly surprising that Maven Clinic, a company built to connect women to telemedicine services at the fraction of a traditional in-person visit, would embrace remote work the way it has — quickly and effectively. But it’s still worth celebrating.
The surge in remote work caused by the pandemic pushed Maven to come up with a way to help its workers who are also parents, those pushed into the unenviable position of working from home just as daycares and schools closed. From online activities for kids to help finding learning pods to subsidized membership to virtual tutoring resources, Maven now offers a robust suite of services that will be useful for the new normal of regular remote work.
Workers enjoy these benefits within a culture that recognizes the inherent challenges and differences of remote work. For instance, virtual meetings aren’t automatically camera-on so workers don’t feel the need to make themselves presentable. And a kid wandering into or otherwise interrupting a call isn’t a problem, it’s a sign of the company’s broader acceptance of the reality of working and parenting in the same space.
“We celebrate and normalize being parents at work, whether it’s posting photos of our kids’ latest adventures in our Slack channel #mini-mavens or bringing them to company-wide events like our virtual talent show,” one employee says. “These everyday experiences go so far in making me feel supported as I grow my career and my family.”
The cybersecurity consulting firm MindPoint Group has a small-but-growing team of just 151 employees, a fact that allows the company to offer a great deal of flexibility and leeway to its workforce.
MindPoint Group built up its culture around the fact that the organization is a team of humans before it’s a faceless company — and the decisions that it makes are centered around those people first and foremost. When the pandemic hit, the company adjusted its schedules to be less rigid and adjusted its expectations to be more understanding of the fact that everyone was struggling during such a uniquely challenging time.
The company already provides lots of important resources to its remote workforce — things like virtual fitness classes, discounted tutoring for the kids, and employee resource groups focused on parenting are all part of the package. And as 2021 progresses, the company says it plans to offer even more, acknowledging the fact that employees and especially working parents might need a little extra help.
One of the “coming soon” perks that’s already underway is a stipend meant to help employees establish or upgrade their home office setups so that working from home can go a little bit more smoothly from here on out.
Nav Technologies Inc
The financial services app Nav Technologies, Inc helps pair small business owners with things like loans, credit cards, and can pull credit reports. With just 120 employees in the United States, Nav Technologies is considerably smaller than most of the companies on this list but still offers comparable benefits capable of helping push the industry forward — especially when it comes to how much flexibility it grants staff.
Nav Technologies already offered benefits like adjustable hours and had a distributed workforce even before the pandemic.
But when remote working became the norm, the company went above and beyond by making sure it provided all the same resources that employees would get out of an office. That includes providing whatever equipment workers needed to do their jobs from home. Sometimes, those necessary supplies have even included free food — one less thing for parents to stress over.
The pandemic has led to other challenges beyond the day-to-day of an already-remote workforce. For instance, when kids started to return to school, Nav Technologies provided several virtual mental healthcare sessions to help working parents handle the stress. Beyond company-run sessions, Nav Technologies also bought a membership to the meditation and relaxation app CALM for every employee and their family members.
The speech and text-recognition company Nuance Communications, made a number of changes to its benefits packages over the course of 2020, increasingly adding new tools and resources as time went on.
Toward the beginning of the pandemic, when everyone transitioned to working at home, Nuance gave all of its remote employees a one-time stipend to set up their working spaces and get anything else they might need to continue working. That’s a huge perk — it would have been far easier to just assume employees would be able to take care of their own setups or that they already had everything they might need to work remotely.
Over the course of the year, Nuance hosted over 30 classes and other virtual sessions, teaching employees and their families how to cook new dishes, providing mindfulness coaching, and also offering financial literacy sessions.
CEO Mark Benjamin repeatedly sent notices to the entire 6,500-person company to remind employees to prioritize their own safety and to urge them to prioritize family time and to take time away from work when they need it. And, just in case anyone didn’t feel comfortable taking time away or simply didn’t happen to use their paid time off, the Nuance added extra company-wide holidays to make sure its staff occasionally stepped back to take a breather.
The cloud software company Okta was founded by two Salesforce alums who decided to build a tool that makes it easier to manage your insurmountable pile of logins.
The company granted its employees an impressive level of workplace freedom and autonomy even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, making its transition to a remote workforce smoother for everyone. When it comes to working-from-home policies, Okta is way ahead of the curve. The company launched its Dynamic Work program in late 2019, through which employees were able to establish the working hours — and location — that made the most sense for them.
Another way that Okta demonstrated empathy was that it repurposed older office supplies like laptops, which it gave out through a lottery system to employees’ children who were stuck taking classes at home. Even after offering those resources, Okta acknowledges that having to show face during every single company meeting can be exhausting, so it reminds employees that they are not required to take meetings with the camera on all the time.
It’s also worth pointing out that Okta changed and, in some cases, suspended performance reviews at the start of the pandemic. Why is that important? Because it demonstrates empathy and accomodation towards all employees, and particularly caregivers who often worry that their responsibilities outside of work will impact how managers evaluate their performance. That understanding philosophy to benefits is at the core of Okta’s approach to remote work, which focused on supporting employees in tangible, beneficial ways so that they could continue to work productively in a world that often feels like we’re living at work versus working from home.
Financial professionals, individuals, and institutional investors turn to PIMCO when they need help deciding where to invest their money. But the most important investments that the powers that be at the Newport Beach based asset management firm have made are those in their employees, specifically the ones that make it possible for parents to do their jobs wherever makes the most sense for their families.
When COVID made that especially difficult, PIMCO stepped up with extra sick leave, paid leave for employees to get vaccinations, and informal flexible scheduling that made it easier for employees to arrange child care and deal with the other challenges of the pandemic. Company leadership modeled the kind of adaptation to the new normal that they wanted to create, with the CEO appearing on Zoom with his own newborn to co-COOs who modeled encouraging employees to seek support, adopt flexibility, and understand that pandemic output might not be 100% of pre-pandemic output.
Today, PIMCO employees get 40 free telecounseling sessions per year, weekly virtual yoga and meditation classes, and, for their kids, a special employee seminar with a children’s hospital to discuss the physical and psychological ramifications of the pandemic for young people. The company now has a robust suite of benefits expanded and reshaped to fit the needs of its pandemic-era workforce.
It should come as no surprise that employees of Rackspace, an early pioneer in the still-new field of managed cloud solutions, telecommuted even before the pandemic. But instead of resting on its laurels, the company engaged in the same reexamination of remote, hybrid, and in-person work that many other companies have since the pandemic began.
In response to an employee survey that showed more than 9 in 10 did not wish to return to the office full-time, Rackspace announced that all Rackers would have access to “full-time agile ways of working.” That means they get more say over when and where they work and, crucially, where they live.
On top of that, the company offers plenty of virtual resources to close the gaps that remote workers often fall into by not going to the office. Expert-led webinars and an internal resources page for parents, virtual physical and mental wellness programs, and even online activities for employees’ kids are all offered with the simple goal of making life easier even for remote workers.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that Reddit, the massive amalgam of online forums and communities works to create a strong sense of community among its staff as well. Reddit actively encourages its roughly 830 employees to step away, turn off their webcam, and adjust their schedules as need be. But for the times that they are around, Reddit hosts loads of online programs and offers virtual perks to make sure they’re taken care of.
For instance, Reddit has hosted a number of employee-driven community-building programs throughout the pandemic, like a virtual take your kid to work day event that was full of family-friendly activities and sessions. The company also provides virtual fitness and wellness programs and various educational workshops to staff, though those might not always be as fun as the take your kid to work day’s “silly dancing time.”
Reddit also helps working parents support their families through childcare subsidies, remote telehealth access, and 24/7 access to nurses through a dedicated helpline to make sure that they have whatever resources they need for when problems come up, regardless of whether those parents are working from home or the office.
Ro is a company that’s never been short on vision. The New York-based start-up’s mission is to “build a patient-centric health care system” premised on flexibility, transparency, and innovation. Those same values guide its policies for the parents it employs, including the many who work remotely.
Every Ro employee receives a $500 remote work stipend annually, money they can use for whatever supports their well-being or makes them feel most productive in the new normal, from sprucing up the home office to child care costs. Separate annual learning and development and monthly well-being stipends ensure that employees have the flexibility to find resources that fit their needs whether or not they’re going into a physical office.
As you might expect from a disruptive health care start-up, employees and their families also have access to free 24/7 video telemedicine care and another stipend they can use on the health care services, including digital clinics and generic pharmaceuticals, provided by the company. Ro employees also have free subscriptions to virtual fitness, physical therapy, mental health, and meditation services that can be used remotely.
Over the course of the pandemic, leadership at the tax services and consulting firm Ryan built up a company culture that focuses on flexibility — repeatedly reminding staff to take breathers as needed.
The company, which also grants unlimited paid time off to about 80 percent of its 1,900 US workers, says that it prioritizes results over putting in facetime. By acknowledging that remote workers, and especially working parents, have priorities pulling them in many different directions at once, Ryan took an important step forward by not also expecting employees to sit around smiling into their cameras during meetings all hours of the day.
As long as employees are putting in the hours and getting their job done, Ryan doesn’t expect them to also sit around on camera during video calls or sacrifice their evenings for company events. Instead, Ryan urges employees to skip whatever optional events they don’t want to attend — which is a crucial work-life balance barrier for companies to create as the lines between work and the rest of life tend to blur while working remotely.
But even with policies specifically meant to promote flexibility and accommodation in place, life is still pretty stressful nowadays. So Ryan also provides its remote workforce with access to virtual mental healthcare services on top of other wellness offerings.
Salesforce, the software-as-a-service giant, has almost doubled its workforce since 2017. How did it entice some 50,000 employees in short order? Massive revenue opportunities are surely part of the draw, since the average employee makes $116,000 per year, but Salesforce also offers some of the best perks for new parents for any company of its size.
During the pandemic, Salesforce offered employees up to an additional six weeks of paid time off to use as they see fit. Specifically, that time was meant to give employees a chance to step back from work and look after their children as issues arose during a deeply abnormal time.They also boosted their childcare reimbursement to $500 a month and offered a stipend for purchasing home office supplies.
When considering their reopening strategy, Salesforce surveyed its employees and found that nearly half of employees wanted to come into the office only a few times per month. This sentiment led them to roll out flexible work schedules, where many employees will be in the office 1-3 days per week, while others will be fully remote. Setting an example that we hope more companies will follow, Salesforce fit it’s reopening strategy around what employees wanted, not the other way around.
Salesforce knows that one thing parents also need help with is finding a way to keep kids at home entertained, so they stepped up to offer additional programming for employees’ families. Whether it’s hanging out with Disney princesses on “Fairytale Friday” or learning to cook during “Little Ohana Cooking Sessions,” about 5,000 kids have tuned in to the company’s programs during the day while their parents worked. Meanwhile, parents can join weekly “B-Well” wellbeing sessions with outside experts who give strategies for parents trying to balance everything at once. With loads of programming for kids and comprehensive benefits to take care of parents, Salesforce clearly set a benchmark for how companies could transition into the pandemic era while still supporting their employees.
Silicon Valley tech giant Synopsys develops silicon chips and the software that helps run them. The $3 billion dollar company has over 4,150 salaried employees in the U.S. who suddenly found themselves setting up shop at home early last year.
The company’s policies show that Synopsys acknowledges that things will probably never go back to the idea of “normal” that existed prior to March 2020. The company says that it will be more lenient and accommodating with remote working arrangements and flexible working hours even after the pandemic is over.
Those arrangements specifically involve acknowledging that working from home means working near family members, and that Synopsys can’t expect everyone to have a perfectly sterile and detached workstation.
While meetings are going on, for example, Synopsys gets that kids are going to pop into the frame and that that’s just a normal part of life now. Meanwhile, the company proactively rounded up educational resources for parents and put them into an easily-digestible guide. They offer ReThink, a service that can help parents, especially those whose kids have special needs, learn to balance remote learning and parenting, along with Degreed, a learning & skill-building platform which also offers resources for virtual learning. And as an added perk, Synopsys purchased employees a year of Dashpass, providing free delivery and much needed convenience.
The Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) first started as a financial service for teachers, and has since expanded to provide insurance and other support to academics, researchers, and various non-profits.
When the pandemic hit, TIAA provided employees with a $500 Home Office allowance so that they could actually work from home in a proper set up instead of curling up on the couch or trying to cram their computer on the kitchen table.
Above all else, TIAA showed that it was committed to providing the help that parents actually needed several times throughout 2020. The company initially offered reimbursement for up to 20 days of backup childcare, paying up to $60 per day per kid. That’s already generous compared to many other companies out there. But this wasn’t any ordinary year, and TIAA responded by drastically increasing how much support it provided working parents. Over the course of the year, TIAA decided that $60 wasn’t enough and increased the reimbursement ceiling to $200 per day while also increasing the number of covered days up to 40 and then 60.
And most importantly, these policies continue through 2021 — highlighting and reinforcing the fact that parents deserve exceptional support all the time and not just a temporary boost during the unusual circumstances that characterized the past year.
While its mission is connecting freelancers to people who need their services, San Francisco-based Upwork is also doing its part to improve full-time work. A big part of that commitment is creating a culture of flexibility and understanding for the parents on staff, one that is founded on a remote-first work policy.
Upwork has employees around the world, which means the majority of the team works remotely. Those who do report to its San Francisco office are enjoying work-from-home policies that have been expanded since the pandemic. There’s also a stipend for WFH expenses and access to virtual wellness and mental health programs, a sign that the company knows that work isn’t the only thing that parents can benefit from doing virtually.
“Upwork is a great place to work remotely especially for parents,” one employee says. “The company doesn’t just say that they care about our work-life balance or who we are as people, every single day it is obvious it’s a priority.”
With just 67 employees and no hourly workers, the internet of things product and software developer Very is among the smallest companies on this list — and yet it still goes above and beyond by offering perks and benefits comparable with those at much larger corporations.
In fact, there are many instances where Very is actually leading the pack. While many companies scrambled to figure out working-from-home arrangements at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Very was already a seasoned veteran with a decade of experience running an entirely-remote workforce.
Every year, Very employees get an extra $1,000 to put toward home office equipment or anything else they need to be productive while working remotely. And if they don’t need all of it in any given year, Very says they’re able to keep rolling over unspent stipends indefinitely — making sure to support its employees however they need it instead of counting pennies or punishing them for not happening to spend the entire stipend each time around.
And because the company already had an entirely-distributed workforce before the pandemic, it had already established and provided telehealth access, childcare stipends, and clear lines of virtual communication to its employees instead of rushing to cobble new programs together after the fact.
Veterans United Home Loans
Veterans United Home Loans, a financial services company best known for offering mortgages and loans to current and former members of the military, acknowledges that many people feel their work lives and home lives have blurred together nowadays. To confront this, the company has chosen to offer its roughly 4,600 employees better benefits than it ever did before the pandemic.
Veterans United Home Loans says that it launched a number of programs to help prevent burnout and better support workers who feel exhausted, in part by offering new wellness and growth programs during work hours instead of making employees seek them out on their own or during their precious evening and weekend hours.
The company also launched Kaleidoscope, a virtual service that provides highly-qualified virtual tutors and other educational services for employees’ kids and other programs for the employees themselves.
What stands out the most is that Veterans United Home Loans acknowledges that no one knows what employees need better than the employees themselves. The company continues to figure out and launch the programs that best help its staff by asking them — directly — what they want out of their employer. The company has made over 2,100 calls to its staff members, about half of whom are still working remotely, and shaped its frequently-augmented benefits packages based on what those employees said would actually make a difference in their lives.
When the shooting and outdoor sporting goods company Vista Outdoor transitioned to a mostly-remote workforce during the pandemic, it actually found that financial performance improved.
While some of the company’s 5,200 US employees still work in person out of necessity, Vista Outdoor says that it’s taking that unexpected spike in business as a sign that becoming a more flexible and accommodating workplace will only continue to serve it going forward. The company will continue to apply those lessons even after the pandemic ends, meaning employees can look forward to ongoing flexibility and better accommodations that will help them establish and draw boundaries between work and the other parts of their lives.
In addition to providing telehealth and on-demand mental health support through its medical insurance, Vista Outdoor partnered with several third-party vendors to make sure its remote workforce had comprehensive access to healthcare and other benefits.
That includes wellness programming through a partnership with Omada Health as well as a free membership to everything that Care.com has to offer, ranging from virtual tutoring for kids, online workshops for the employees themselves, and backup childcare and eldercare for when unexpected emergencies pop up.