It’s been six months since the coronavirus pandemic brought life — and business — as we know it to a grinding halt. Employers were forced to adapt overnight, moving office operations into workers’ homes.
Almost everything about remote work was a challenge, from technology issues to parents preoccupied with children at home. Many companies and employees have adjusted to the new normal, but COVID-19 has impacted much more than just employees’ current physical work location.
While a handful of businesses have slowly but surely brought employees back into the workplace, most are taking the opposite approach.
Two-thirds of employers expect this remote work shift to be permanent, at least on a part-time basis. Companies that once disallowed telecommuting are realizing employees can still get the job done at home.
A few major companies have gone as far as declaring a permanent, full-time remote work policy. Employees at Twitter, Shopify and Zillow, among many others, can choose to never return to the office, even once the pandemic is a distant memory.
But remote work isn’t the only pandemic-related decision employers have to make.
In the current business landscape, so many benefits employers offer simply don’t make sense anymore. Additionally, new needs are popping up as a result of COVID-19. This means a major benefits shake-up is in order.
Reallocation of benefits
That’s exactly what Kayla Lebovits, CEO and Founder of Bundle, a provider of employer-subsidized virtual childcare education, knew she had to do.
As a mother, Lebovits knows firsthand how challenging it can be to juggle work and child care. Even those without kids have other home responsibilities they’re dealing with.
Like many companies out there, Bundle quickly adapted to working in the midst of a pandemic. Employees were given flexibility — they could work whatever hours worked for them, as long as assignments got done.
But Lebovits realized some bigger changes were needed when it became clear that the pandemic rendered many once-popular benefits irrelevant.
Perks that Bundle offered its employees, like gym memberships and transportation stipends, just weren’t being used in the new coronavirus world. Not only that, but new needs were cropping up.
Lebovits recognized childcare assistance as one of those major gaps.
The pandemic has brought to light something that’s always been a struggle — even before the virus, it was a challenge for working parents to juggle it all.
“I think we’re going to see a big shift, and more employers will be offering childcare benefits,” Lebovits predicts. “I think it’ll become a major staple, like healthcare.”
Some companies have taken a step in that direction by offering assistance with daycare or nannies, but Bundle has a slightly different approach by offering both clients and employees not only virtual childcare, but education as well.
More than babysitting
Bundle offers a virtual learning experience, where parents can sign on and leave their child in front of the computer for a few hours, knowing that they are not just zoning out with a cartoon.
There’s live interaction and one-on-one engagement with the instructor, and topics range from science to the arts to health and wellness.
“We’ve never had a kid walk away from the screen,” Lebovits says. This service gives parents the opportunity to have uninterrupted work time while their child is actively engaged with educational material.
Bundle’s programs are designed to supplement kids’ schooling, but it’s available to children as young as three.
Lebovits says it’s important for employers to take a very different benefits approach, and the pandemic is the perfect opportunity for a shake-up. They should go beyond typical childcare assistance to help meet what working parents really want and need.
“Parents need options,” Lebovits says. “They need more than babysitting.”
Childcare benefits will not only help alleviate stress on employers’ current workforce, but help attract future talent who value this kind of perk.