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5 Ways to Compensate Remote Workers and Keep Them Engaged

It’s widely known that fifty percent of the U.S. workforce will be remote by the year 2020. That being said, it’s imperative that your business, large or small, is prepared to bring on a remote team in the years to come.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Jesse Neugarten, CEO and Founder of Dollar Flight Club.

From the very first hire, Dollar Flight Club has always been a remote team. For us, deciding to hire the best person for the job no matter where they live is one of the most strategic decisions we made as a company.

Over time, I’ve learned a few things about how to compensate remote workers and keep them happy, on track and engaged in their work. If your organization is looking to expand by adding remote team members to your workforce, here are five tips to help you determine salary / offer packages for remote workers, handle payroll with ease and ensure that remote workers feel connected to your organization.

1. Give generous salaries + stock options + communicate your compensation strategy

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

Figuring out how much to pay remote workers can be tough to navigate because your team may live in different cities with various standards of living.

It’s important to take all that into account when putting together a compensation package for them. In addition, layering in stock options is an integral part to keeping your team engaged and in it for the long haul.

I recommend using the Buffer salary calculator when you’re figuring out salary for your remote team. The formula takes into account their role, experience and cost of living depending on their home city. The calculator also gives you and your employees an easy way to discuss pay raises, by adjusting the experience setting on the calculator. It’s a simple way to be transparent and move away from arbitrary salaries. One note about this tool: they use PayScale data to power their benchmarks.

Alternately, you can go directly to the source of this market data – PayScale. PayScale can help you determine the salary range of a job, not only factoring in the cost-of-living differences between the cities, but also factoring in experience level, key skills needed for the job and the level of competition for a role in a particular job market.

For example, they can tell you that the average salary for a software developer role in San Francisco is 17 percent higher than the national average, but the average for an account executive in San Francisco is just 10 percent higher than the national average. You can get started by pricing a job for free on PayScale’s website.

Being transparent with your remote team about how you’ve determined their compensation is just as important as figuring out how much to pay them. PayScale studies have found that how people perceive their pay has a greater impact on how they feel about their employer than how much they’re actually paid. By using these salary tools, it’s much easier to have an open conversation with your employee about how much they are getting paid and why it’s a fair salary based on various factors.

In addition, being open with your team in regards to company revenue is another way to be more transparent when discussing compensation relative to company performance.

2. Select the right payment service for your needs


Paying remote workers who live in the United States or internationally can seem overwhelming and complicated at times. There are taxes and payment logistics to think through which may be expensive to navigate as well.

There are various remote or freelancing websites that offer to take care of that side of things for you, such as Upwork; however, they charge pricey fees. In order to save thousands of dollars, make sure you take time to pick the right payment service.

  • For U.S. teams with employees in the U.S., Europe, Mexico, or Brazil, Bitwage is a reliable payment service that offers the lowest rates in the industry. They have an outstanding support team that can help you every step of the way, no matter the size of your business.
  • For smaller teams with remote employees we recommend PayPal Payouts. If you’re spending less than $20,000 a month on payroll, your fees are capped at $1, which is a huge money saver.
  • For much larger companies who are spending more than $20,000 a month on payroll, it’s worth using an enterprise product like Transpay or Payoneer, since fees will add up significantly using Bitwage at this level. These enterprise players also give you an account manager, which is a huge bonus.

Paying remote employees on time, efficiently, and cost effectively is a major pain point for companies large and small. At Dollar Flight Club, we used Bitwage in the early days since they had great customer support and low fees, however, we’ve transitioned over to Gusto, which is a more inclusive service that offers benefits as well. Make sure to do your research and pick the service that’s right for your company.

3. Provide generous health and wellness perks


Although remote workers tend to get paid less than in-house workers in some cases, it’s important to compensate them with exciting health and wellness benefits. In addition to offering health insurance for all of your team members, here are a few ideas on the wellness side of things:

Wellness Perk Ideas:

  • Unlimited time off: Remote teams are often more productive than in-house teams. They know how to get their work done and don’t need someone telling them what to do at all times. Give them the ability to take time off when they need.
  • Learning stipend: Encourage your team to keep growing and learning. That can be night classes or even something as simple as Skillshare classes.
  • Spotify subscription: Give them something to listen to while they work. You can also create company playlists so the team has fun things to chat about on team calls.
  • Co-working space: Give your remote employees some cash to create their ideal work setup. It might be lonely for some employees working at home five days a week.

It’s important to remember that remote employees can get lonely if they are always working from home. Make sure to build your perk package around engaging your team and making them feel included. It will pay dividends for you in the long run.

4. Provide the best tech possible to get the job done

You need to give your remote team the right tools to get the job done. We recommend that you get your employees a laptop at the very least, so they can work from anywhere and you know they have the basic tools to do the work.

In general, the tech that you supply your remote team should focus on making sure everyone can communicate with one another so that the whole team feels included. A few examples:

  • Let’s say you have 100 employees in Seattle and 20 in Denver. You would want to tell everyone to use communication channels in a consistent way, such as turning on their webcam for daily standups so everyone can one another. If some team members don’t have computers with workable cameras, there might be issues there.
  • If your team are heavy Google Drive users, then you probably do not want to purchase anyone a Microsoft Laptop since they usually don’t sync up as well with Google Drive.

5. Host company retreats

Most remote teams never actually meet each other in person. It’s quite important to put together company retreats for your team members. It’s a great perk and it helps your team get comfortable with each other by meeting face to face. This usually helps your team feel comfortable working together even more so when they’re remote. The Dollar Flight Club team is having their first retreat this year!

We recommend taking a look at what other remote companies have done in the past to save you time.

Overall, scheduling annual or semi-annual company retreats creates a stronger-knit team, exposes coworkers’ hidden talents, gets employees to work toward a shared goal, and helps people overcome their fears.

Tell us what you think

Do you have tips on how to compensate remote employees? If so, share them with us below or on Twitter.

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Jesse Neugarten
Founder at Dollar Flight Club
Read more from Jesse

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