Telecommuting and other flexible work benefits are in demand like never before, and one of the nation’s largest employers is getting on board in a big way.
Amazon is looking to fill more than 250 virtual jobs that allow workers to work from home. As of Aug. 10, the online retailer’s job site lists 253 virtual — or work-from-home — positions, all but two of which are full-time. The remote jobs include positions in customer service, human resources, marketing, software development and working on Amazon’s growing list of Alexa and Echo devices.
Work-at-home employees get Amazon’s standard full-time employee benefits, which include health, medical and dental insurance, a 401(k) plan with company match, restricted stock units, maternity and parental leave and adoption assistance.
The retail giant joins a growing list of employers, including UnitedHealth Group, SAP and Aetna, that recently have embraced remote and flexible work arrangements. Such benefits have seen a big growth kick in the last few years.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s latest employee benefits survey, released in June, more than two-thirds (70%) of organizations now offer some type of telecommuting, either on a full-time, part-time or ad-hoc basis, up from 62% last year and 59% in 2014.
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“Workplace flexibility is on the rise, and employers expect it to grow further,” say Julie Stich, associate vice president at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Amazon is making a smart move by offering the perk, Stich says, as the company looks to expand its footprint and open up a second headquarters in a city yet to be named.
“As Amazon expands, they will need to have a strong retention and attraction plan, and a flexible work option is something they should consider,” she says. More than half of employees wish their company offered more flexible work options, according to Mercer’s global talent survey, released earlier this year.
Experts say flexible working benefits — including telecommuting, flextime and compressed workweeks — encourage work-life balance and can result in higher productivity and more engaged employees.
“Employees can face a number of challenges working in an office, like long, traffic-filled commutes, especially in metro areas like Chicago, San Francisco, Austin or New York,” Stich says. “[And for] employees with family or other caretaking responsibilities, being tied to an office makes it more difficult to take care of appointments or other obligations. With a telecommuting situation, these errands can possibly be run during the day, with work being done later in the day or evening.”
Employers who offer the arrangement also can attract a wider range of talent, Stich says, “geographically, as well as those who wouldn’t consider working outside of the home. This can be a huge advantage in a tight labor market.”
Still, experts caution that employers must be extra careful about engaging their remote workers.
“Working remotely can leave [employees] feeling isolated and not part of a working community,” Stich says. “They can also miss subtle but critical communications that happen when working face to face, such as in a brainstorming meeting.”
Amazon has been making big waves in the benefits industry recently. The retail giant reportedly is in internal discussions to open primary care clinics for its employees in its main headquarters in Seattle, according to a report this week. The retailer is also in the midst of working on a health venture with Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan that will provide health coverage for the three company’s employees.