More than a year into the pandemic, it seems like work-from-home life is here to stay. This has left some employers wondering how to best support their remote workers. When it comes to meeting team members’ health needs, virtual care solutions offer tremendous benefits.
Over the past year, work-from-home employment and the increase in flexible working taught employers an important lesson: Employees can maintain work productivity and performance from the comfort of their homes. Many even relocated from populated areas to more remote or suburban places. Companies and employees adapted to this new way of working and now have to determine the best way to return to the office — if at all.
REI, for example, planned fewer days in the office for its employees and replaced its big office plans with smaller, satellite locations throughout the Seattle suburbs. Similarly, Ralph Lauren announced in February that it would cut up to 30 percent of its corporate real estate in North America to “embrace new ways of working.”
As more employers make decisions about the future of work — knowing that it will likely involve working from home in some capacity — it’s vital that they consider which benefits support remote workers best. Much has changed over the past year, but employees still need benefits they can count on. This is where comprehensive healthcare solutions come in.
Rethinking the Return to the Office and Virtual Care Solutions
Companies are thinking through how people work together remotely. Research from Slack and Future Forum reveals that most people want to see an increase in flexible working options, with as many as 72% of respondents saying they want a hybrid work model in the future. As a result, remote work and flexible work have to remain a top priority for companies moving forward.
Whether employees work in the office or work from home, they’ll still expect the same benefits that come with in-office employment — with one key addition: telehealth benefits. The video communication that makes remote work possible can also be used to provide comprehensive healthcare solutions. Because so many people came to rely on virtual care during the pandemic, they now view it as less of a “nice-to-have” and more of a necessity.
Affordable and comprehensive virtual care solutions offer great benefits to employers and employees. The technology empowers employees to receive care conveniently and efficiently without taking hours away from work, which ultimately benefits them and the company. Offering telehealth benefits also decreases overall costs for employers by improving employee health, which increases productivity, boosts motivation, and improves mental well-being.
How Employers Can Engage Employees With Virtual Care Options
When considering virtual care options for your own business, take these four things into account:
1. Include a virtual urgent care option. This provides access to a doctor 24/7 and is available nationwide. This might be an employee’s most convenient way to address an injury, receive much-needed prescriptions, and receive referrals to specialists.
2. Support mental and fiscal well-being. It's important for employees to feel mentally and financially stable at work. Companies that offer solutions like talk therapy ensure that employees can speak with a network of licensed therapists from the comfort of their own homes.
3. Provide even more comprehensive healthcare solutions. For example, virtual primary care is a service that has all the same advantages as in-person primary care within a virtual platform. Employees build a relationship with a primary care provider and enjoy the same follow-ups as in-person visits. These types of services also offer annual wellness exams and routine labs with a primary care physician of choice.
4. Look for options that offer additional services. Virtual care providers should offer a qualified team of medical professionals and the flexibility to add or remove family members from the plan you offer. Companies should also research prescription drug discounts and health and wellness resources similar to rewards plans. Finally, the virtual care platform should be easy to navigate so that each employee gets the attention they need with minimal trouble.
Thinking about the future of work post-pandemic remains a challenge for most employers, and determining the right benefits for employees in this new world will be a key focus. Thinking through all virtual care options ensures employees feel cared for and heard. By offering comprehensive health plans that support virtual care, employers put their employees first — no matter what the office looks like.