The future of remote work benefits & perks are personalized w/ Amy Spurling, CEO @Compt
HR is about to enter the age of personalization. Perks & Benefits offered to employees have been overhyped but underutilized. Leaving many employees with a benefit they have no use for and in some cases a taxable burden.
COMPANY CULTUREEMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
Here's the recap...Welcome to Season 2!! In today's episode, we chatted with Amy Spurling, the CEO & Co-founder @ Compt. We spoke about how most benefits packages offered by companies today are rarely used and therefore greatly underappreciated. Whether the company selects specific types of perks like a mental health app, gym memberships, or ping pong tables it's not providing value to all employees. We discuss the future approach of companies replacing this method with stipends for a specific topic. Allowing the individual employee to decide what health means to them and getting the maximum value from that stipend.
And so much more...
People don't like the benefits and perks you're offering
During CoVid about everyone on earth dealt with some mental health challenges. We had a great series on the topic you can check out here. One of the topics discussed was how important it was that people have access to someone to talk with. How companies were rolling out access to mental health professionals on-demand via some mobile app. That was great. But what happens when that's the whole package offered for mental health, yet someone people aren't interested. Either they aren't in a location that has access via the app, they may not be comfortable speaking with someone, or best case scenario their best bet is simply going out for a run. The app helps one employee, but for another new running sneakers, better Bluetooth headphones, or a subscription to Strava would be much more effective. Now just imagine this at the 20,000 ft scenario where you're company is now remote. Employees in different countries, with different cultures, different access to health care, and more.
The better approach may be to give a $100 per month stipend to support employee mental health. Each employee can then use the money on what's most effective, valuable, and helpful to them. Everyone wins!
Benefits are taxable
Using the case above, just imagine this. That mobile app you're offering is a great perk. However, it's not part of the employee's health insurance package. That means, unlike their healthcare plan, it's taxable both to the company and the individual employee. How impactful is that app to the runner? Not only do they not use it but they are being taxed to not use it.
On the other hand, the money given out via employee recognition tools like Bonusly is also taxed. When the employee cashes out their recognition earnings into gifts, gift cards, etc those items are taxed. In this case, the employee shouldn't care since they're getting a financial reward. The company should overlook any potential tax as related to employee engagement.
Will the coffee, snacks, and meals offered to keep employees in the office be reinvented for remote work?
Companies like Google were famous for their in-house chefs and meals delivered to your desk. They didn't do this out of the kindness of their heart. Perks like this were intended to keep you in the office later and spending more time at your desk working.
Now that we've gone remote, will companies look to reinvent this by offering employees coffee or snack box subscriptions? Perhaps not, since the intention of being glued to your desk in the office is no longer. In addition, which coffee subscription do you get? Perhaps you have a coffee snob like me who won't drink just any coffee. Finally, that subscription box is now taxable too.
[00:01:00] Scott: Hey everyone. Thanks for tuning in to the new season of the show. Super excited to be back for season two. This is going to be an awesome season where we're going to cover a lot of fantastic topics. Like benefits for remote teams and how important community building is within remote work, hiring asynchronously, and a lot more. So I'm your host, Scott Markovits. I'm happy to report that Tevi, my copilot recently took a job leading product at AppSumo. He's also getting ready to launch a big side project. So I'm going solo this season.
Today, I'm joined by Amy Spurling, who's the co-founder and CEO of Compt. A startup creating a benefits as a service platform. Helping remote teams personalize their benefits offering. To ensure that they're actually being used and they're valuable to each member of the team. In this episode, we're going to dive into how companies should be designing and updating their benefits packages for the future of work. Very much focused on the idea of stipends on specific topics like health.
Now you might be thinking why exactly is that important? In the US, all health insurance is private, and it can be quite expensive for a good plan. At least $1,000 for a family plan. But in countries in Europe, Israel and some other places offer socialized healthcare. And the cost is obviously significantly less. So how can a company be fair and offer value to employees in both locations? We'll also speak about how many benefits are actually taxable to the company and employees. Surprisingly, even things like including access to a mental health mobile app. So much goodness, in this episode. So without further ado, here we go.
Hey, Amy, how are you doing today?
[00:02:46] Amy: I'm great. Thanks for having me on
[00:02:48] Scott: it's our pleasure. How's everything on the east coast of the US these days?
[00:02:53] Amy: Gorgeous, fall day here. So no complaints.
[00:02:56] Scott: Very nice to see a little bit of sun behind you. So hopefully it's a nice sunny day as it is over here. Awesome. So before we dive into the topic, which is today is going to be about benefits. Especially for remote teams.
As the first episode of the new season, we're going to try out a couple of new ideas that we've had in mind for the new show. So please bear with us as we run into it. So the first is picking off something that's been in the news the last couple of weeks around remote work. Just to share some ideas. So something popped into my head. What came out of the Facebook outage about two weeks ago. So certainly if you were alive two weeks ago you noticed that Facebook went down for a couple of hours. Part of the blame for why the time was so long to get it back up was because of work from home. Which seems absolutely outlandish and just ridiculous to me.
But I wanted to get your thoughts of any truth to that, or is just completely ridiculous?
[00:03:58] Amy: I'm not, I don't work at Facebook. So I have no idea what their internal systems look like, but I find that very hard to believe that it's because people were distributed. I don't work at Facebook. I have no idea what their systems are, their software looks like on the inside. So I suppose it's possible.
[00:04:16] Scott: Yeah. Two of the things that jumped out to me in the various articles were number one. The downtime started at 8:30 AM local time. I've been working in tech startups for almost 10 years. I don't know if there's any tech startup that starts their day at 8:30 in the morning. Plus the fact that people apparently were locked out of the building. So it seems to me that if you were actually working at home, you wouldn't have been just sitting there in the parking lot and not being able to do anything.
So probably working from home would have been a benefit. Potentially to help troubleshoot this issue and not be locked out. And the second thing that jumped out to me was the fact that nobody in the team could communicate because they were using an internal Facebook communication, a collaboration tool that obviously sat on their internal servers that were down. Which again, if you were doing remote the right way, potentially using a Slack or Microsoft Teams or some kind of cloud-based software, and even if they had their product on the cloud. This issue wouldn't have happened, that people would have been able to collaborate.
[00:05:16] Amy: And Facebook historically, like each app is run separately anyways. It's not like it's one platform where everything is hanging off of it. So that to me is very strange. It wasn't just Facebook. It was also Instagram and WhatsApp. Like they all went down. They're not all my understanding felt the same. Like their own individual products. So that's a little strange to me. And then with the collaboration tools it's not, this is not one end-to-end platform is my understanding.
So how all of that went down at the same time is. A little odd.
[00:05:53] Scott: Yeah. Make sense to me. So let's dive in. The best place to start is to tell us a little bit more about yourself and the origin story of Compt.
[00:06:03] Amy: Sure. So I am a three-time former CFO. So I've been in the tech industry for about 20 years helping other founders build and scale their companies.
So I've been part of six companies prior to this and that finance or operations type role. This means I got this amazing front seat to watch how HR was changing over the last 20 years as well. So when I started. It was very much when you think about compensation. Negotiate your salary. You should be happy you're getting paid. Sit there, don't talk to anybody kind of environment. It was very employer centric and that has certainly shifted. And I believe for the better over the last 20 years where now it's very employee-centric. When we think about compensation. Just focused on tech for a little bit.
About 80% of your compensation is your salary and your health insurance in the US. It's that last 20% where companies start differentiating from each other because everyone can Google their salary range. So with that shift companies needed to find new ways to stand out with employees. Silicon Valley went crazy bananas with all kinds of perks and they were notorious for it.
And then everyone followed. And it became a big fat mass. So the more stuff you bring in the fewer people use. Anything you bring in thing, dog walking or dry cleaning or the gym reimbursement or the way. Less than 10% of your team's going to use it. So very inefficient. Doesn't get great employee engagement and it's very expensive and none of it was taxed correctly.
So just compounding issues. And so I got really frustrated because my team was demanding personalization as they rightly should. everybody wanted something different, but I couldn't do that at scale. And I couldn't do that and be budget compliant and tax compliant. And I couldn't do that and support my international teams.
So that's where I wanted to start Compt. I was waiting for someone to build this platform and finally, I was just like, "Look, nobody else is going to do it. I'm going to go build it." Because I need this thing to be able to solve these problems within teams. Because it's such a critical piece. A component of the compensation stack for employees and how you differentiate as a company.
[00:08:15] Scott: Yeah. That kind of leads me perfectly right on to my starting-off question. From a holistic view, what should be the purpose of the benefits package of a company look like?
[00:08:26] Amy: Think so looking at kind of benefits are usually like health insurance. 401k, highly regulated stuff, and then perks. The combination of the two should, in my opinion, be obviously supporting employees. Part of your overall compensation package. And honestly, it's a very expensive portion of your compensation package. When you're looking at health insurance in particular that employee perks themselves.
There are ways for companies to differentiate. A tech company is a tech company, is a tech company. And we all want to believe that we're mission-driven and that we have something different and we're solving some problem, which of course we are. But a lot of times it does come down to the environment the employees are working in and the culture that they want to work.
So companies use that to say, "Hey, this is how we're different. We're family-focused. We believe in supporting your wellness. We want to make sure that your remote work situation is a great one." So allowing companies to really differentiate and focus employee spend and that area with employee perks, it shouldn't, in my opinion, just be a grab bag of stuff. Because that's really hard to navigate as an employee. So it's much more. It should be reinforcing a company's culture. If you have some core pillars of things that you believe in the employee perks should support that. It shouldn't be your employee perks are not your culture. If they are, that's not going to end well for you.
So the employee perk should actually support the things that you believe in as a company. Which is just going to be this nice reinforcing factor with the employees. Because they'll feel supported in a way that also aligns with your culture.
[00:10:06] Scott: Interesting. As the world moves towards hybrid remote, fully remote, and more distributed work, what is a world-class remote benefits package look like? It's seemingly different from when you had everyone in one location or one country or one city. Now that it's expanding what is that world-class remote package looks like?
[00:10:30] Amy: Yeah. I remember it used to be like working remotely was a privilege. And so it was on you to have your own desk set up and whatever. And a company was like, "Hey we're already going out of our way to be so generally." To let you use your own electricity and cell phone and wifi.
We're allowing you to do that. Thank you very much. And by the way, we don't have to pay for an office for you, but that is your benefit. That's changed where companies are recognizing one, we can work fully remote. We've proven that for the last 20 months that you can do this and you can do it productively for certain types of jobs in industries.
It's not. It's no longer just like some privilege that a few people get. It's an expectation for a lot of employees. So as we move more towards that, companies are shifting the way they think about perks to being more. It used to be like, hey, we offered a bunch of things in the office to keep you in the office. Lunch every day in the office.
That is not a, Hey, we want to be nice to our employees. That is don't leave the building for the love of everything. I want you to stay here and keep working like dinner at 7:00 PM. That was not to be nice to your employees. That was please don't leave and go home. We want you to keep working. That has shifted them.
Thank goodness, because that's a terrible, thing to be doing to human beings where it's, how do I support you to be the most productive, possible working from home? That's where we're seeing a lot more remote stipends because it's, virtually impossible to give a slate of vendors that is going to support your employees.
As they're all over the country, all over the world, there is no slate of vendors that are going to meet that need. So working with stipends, it's saying, all right, I don't know if you have a desk or a chair or a monitor, or what is that you want? What's your house design is or any of that here as a new employee, here's a certain amount of money to get set up with the things that are missing, that you need to upgrade.
Make sure your experience is really good. And then maybe an ongoing stipend as well. That's looking at usually cell phone and internet for sure covering those. But a lot of times it's covering some portion of wellness. It's maybe looking at family benefits, recognizing that people may have children that need coverage. Or they're taking care of their parents or they just need some more balance in their life. So it's supporting the fact that, Hey, every human has a family. How do we, support the fact that you as a human being have, you're not just a little work bot you, have other aspects to your life and how do we support that as a company?
So looking at it in a much more holistic way, which allows for a lot more inclusivity and a lot more personalization for employees.
[00:13:12] Scott: Yeah. Before I get to that point I'm definitely going to dive in and tackle the idea of the chef, the ping pong table, and things like that. That's something that's bothered me.
I've been thinking about it for quite a while, but we'll get that a little bit later. But certainly as remote grows and teams now expand outside of just maybe one country, at least maybe just starting at the. Basic benefits that are offered. An American standard of like health insurance and 401k and different things like that.
Is it possible to have a one size fit all, now that you're expanding across the world? With different backgrounds, cultures, and even countries. In the US you obviously pay for health insurance versus in other countries like Israel and much of Europe, you have socialized healthcare where maybe you don't need to pay it all. Or you pay a smaller amount. Is there any way to make everybody happy with an I'd call it like a one size fits all type of approach? Even trying to focus it on the global community.
[00:14:14] Amy: I think yes and no. So one size fits all. If you tried to make everyone have the same program as the US or the same program as any other country is not going to work because there are geographical differences.
Like you called out. There are different compulsory benefits in different countries in Europe. There are different hours of the day that you can and can't work. And in countries like France, the concept of part-time isn't really a thing in France. Neither is an 80-hour workweek.
So you can't just say, Hey, we're Americans and everybody is now going to work in a way that we've suddenly decided is a global way of working. That's not a thing. And you're going to end up blowing up your company. If you do that, you can do it it's a more inclusive way is saying, "Hey, what we want to support is something like wellness."
We want to support our employees' wellness. That's core to our kind of culture and our beliefs. And keep it at that level or family, or we want you to be able to travel or all kinds of different things that you could do that way. Instead, let's just focus on the wellness piece for a minute. If you say, Hey globally, we support wellness.
We've got employees and 13 different countries all over the world. We're going to give you a certain amount of money for a certain time period. But as a local employee, you get to determine how that's used. Which vendors you're using. What that means for you. How that integrates into your life. What your own wellness journey is. So that you can create a, it's not one size fits all because it allows for that personalization, but it's globally theme-based. And that we've seen work very nicely for companies who are trying to bring some unification. Cause it's so hard when you've got employees in so many different countries where there is so much localization happening. That even just amounts of money. If you were offering a thousand dollars in the west to an employee for a year, you go to other countries where the buying power for a thousand dollars is like 10 X, that's not equating it either.
You need to look at what this looks like in local markets and, potentially adjust. And so it's. Figuring out how you want to approach that, but doing more thematic and having a global theme rather than saying, Hey, we're going to support 24-hour fitness gym memberships globally.
You're like, thank you very much. That works in five cities in the US.
[00:16:35] Scott: To dive in a little bit more on the idea of personalization and saying that the company is building a marketplace to give each individual, the opportunity to personalize or customize the experience. What's best for them. When we spoke last time, I think we went into this. I want to try to bring it up here, is there a fine line with that personalization?
In some senses may be better for the company to choose something specific versus the individual. I think we may have spoken about it last time. There's something that I've done with my teams, it's a set amount of money that's given we'll call it gifting throughout the year. And instead of giving you a $500 gift card. In one case I sent somebody on a couple of wine tasting tours around. Israel in this case because I knew the person likes wine and we did a whole different product for that person. What does that feeling of, "Hey, I'm the company? I know you, Amy, like wine." You are into whatever it may be, and I'm going to give you something very specific to you as the company is saying, "Hey, I know who you are. I want you to have this versus here's $500 for a custom experience."
Now you have the opportunity to choose that and you may actually choose the same thing in other wine tasting tours or whatever it may be. Is there that fine line where maybe the person choosing it themselves potentially doesn't have the same appreciation for it as if the company gave it to them themselves? Saying, "Hey, wow, the company really knows me and really appreciates, giving me something very specific to me versus allowing me to choose what I want to choose."
[00:18:20] Amy: It's an interesting debate, our conversation. I do want to clarify one thing. We aren't building a marketplace. We are not a marketplace, So no vendors on the platform were the only way we get to personalization. No marketplaces.
But going back to the rest of the conversation, I think it's rare that companies can actually at scale, give meaningful gifts. What you end up finding is that there may be pockets of employers or pockets of managers that know their team well enough to be able to do that.
But that is very rare. And even in the example, you gave. That works if an employee's entire schedule, their family schedule, when they can travel, who's got kid duty who doesn't. Like, it gets very complicated. So even if they really wanted that wine tour, if the kids aren't on vacation or if there's not somebody to watch them, that gets very difficult to manage.
And then you have to get really deep in your employees' lives to be able to be like this one weekend in this one month, we're sending you to go do that. You don't know when their mom's birthday is like, it is very difficult to like, actually do that in a way that gets all the way into an employee's life,. Which is where most companies don't do that.
And especially when you're looking at experiences, Yeah, the classic example I've seen in a lot of companies is sports tickets. We have sports tickets to go see or concert tickets. That's really hard for a lot of people to actually be able to attend, even if they really wanted to. Life doesn't allow for that.
So even though an employee may, in theory, one. A lot of times, it's a lot easier to actually take advantage of something and feel like it's meaningful and personalized. If they can just manage it around their own schedule, rather than you trying to do that. Imagine trying to do that at scale, and you have say 10 direct reports. And then each of them has 10 direct reports and so on and so forth.
Like your team's going to spend all of their time on gifting instead of actually building your company.
[00:20:24] Scott: I hear it. They can come to me. I've done this for a number of companies. I think back at the experience in the early days of InVision when I was somewhat running this. Of two different experiences that I had. One on the side of giving the gifts. We had a new hire who was from somewhere in Canada was a very big hockey fan.
He had a birthday, maybe two or three weeks after joining the company. And I bought him an autographed jersey of his favorite player. And for 2 years all the time has spoken about it. It was amazing. I love it here. Take the pictures of his life in the glass frame on the wall. And then on the other hand, once we've I guess we may actually be the issue with scaling, but we're not having the team or the procedures and policies in place.
Then we use one of those tools. The app, I don't think it's in business anymore. The company is giving you a hundred bucks. Here, you have the option of choosing a hammock or a wine set or whatever. Choose, your own gift. And I got some stuff that I enjoyed. I still have a wine carafe and some wineglass that are on an angle. They tilt. And everybody when they see them on a table, starts freaking out. They jump trying to grab them because they think that the cup is falling over. So it's like a fun trick to play on somebody. But maybe in the actual gift itself where it's an item or an object or something like that. Is there maybe any difference between getting that personally autographed hockey jersey for my favorite player versus here's a hundred bucks. Get something that you maybe you still enjoy five years later.
[00:21:50] Amy: There are two pieces there as well. One, I think if it's something where the employee really wants I think that autograph jersey that's so cool. That's awesome. And that's gonna leave a permanent impression on that employee. At scale, not every manager is going to do that.
So if you have one manager in a company that is doing that and the other managers, aren't your system. And most managers do not do that. And don't get that far into the weeds and you can't really legislate that, that doesn't work. So I think you're going to have it break pretty quickly. You have this amazing manager who is coming up with really cool stuff.
And then, not so much as part of the challenge, but I agree with you just having a hundred bucks and going on what is essentially your credit card rewards points thing, and being like, all right, "What's the thing I can get." That's a terrible experience. And that's also why we're not building a marketplace.
I'm not going to scroll and scroll to find the one thing that I now have to have in my house, but I didn't really need it anyway. That's not a great experience either. I think the happy medium is doing things that are more thematic. And so allowing employees to determine for themselves how they want to be supported and whether that is a big grand gesture. A thing that they want to do. They want to do a trip or they want to like how they want to use their stipend versus something that may be what they really need right then, and there is just a babysitter for the night. So they can get the heck out of the house. And so allowing for more of that employee kind of self-determination I think is a little bit different. Because again there's a reason why credit card reports points to have big marketplaces.
They're assuming you won't use them. That's how they just keep all those points and it costs them nothing. Same with gift cards. Everybody's assuming there's a breakage fee, which there always is. And so those are just wasted money, in my opinion. Versus trying to have somebody do the awesome things you've done for your prior teams, how many managers do you know that have ever done that?
You could probably count them on one hand. This means that is not something that is going to work as you scale a company.
[00:24:03] Scott: Fair enough. Fair enough. One point that you spoke about before, is the idea of taxes. I've been a huge proponent for many years of employee recognition tools.
There are lots of great ones that especially plug into slack. Like Hey Taco and other ones where you give like a virtual high five and things like that. There's one called Bonusly. That for me it has been ahead and shoulders above everybody else. We used it at InVision. And I was consulting with the company a number of months ago and they were using another one of these tools.
And I said, "Why aren't you using this tool? You should be using Bonusly." Because the idea, okay, it's nice to recognize Amy. "Hey, great job on that sales call or whatever, and here's a high five or a taco or whatever it may be in the middle." Versus, Hey, give that same kind of high five, but here's $3. Here's $5. Here's something else. Yeah.
And the years of experience in InVision I, think I got from the Bonusly, Apple AirPods and an Apple watch and probably some other and a whole bunch of Amazon gift cards in between. Yeah. And for me, it's yes, that's amazing. I got a high five. I got the credit for my team or my manager or things like that.
But the additional hey, actually get something. Yeah, for me was fantastic. So when I was consulting with the company and asking the why, aren't you doing this? Or why don't you move this tool? They said I think they're an Estonian-based company and there are issues with tax. They have to pay tax on these things. And here in Israel, the employee has to pay tax on those gift cards.
So for companies that are going to remote too. How do taxes come into play with that? And obviously, some countries like here and maybe other places in Europe if you get a gift card or you get something with value, you have to pay tax on that.
[00:25:45] Amy: I don't think there's a country in the world that doesn't tax gift cards by the way. So if it's given in the form of a gift card, you have to tax employees and you have to pay your own company taxes as well. The tax issue is a big one.
And it's a big part of the reason we wanted to build Compt. Because all these systems were built out there for employee perks, for recognition. If it's giving something that is either monetary or monetary equivalent, employees owed taxes on it. And that's not being tracked. You're basically bringing a smoking gun into your organization of here are all the ways we give cash to people or things to people and are taxing them.
That's a nice little report that the IRS can use and be like, thank you. "Where's my money?" And why haven't you taxed your employees? That's a huge issue. So that is something that when we were building our platform, the tax piece was front and center on that. Because you have to stay compliant and it gets even more critical.
The IRS is scary, not nearly as scary as some of the tax kinda the tax groups and other countries. Like the UK is way scarier. When you're talking about taxing. If you don't do that correctly, they show up with a clipboard and they start taking notes for laptops. And then they'll show up and they'll repo your stuff.
Like it's, absolutely bananas. And I'm like, that is way scarier than the IRS. So you have to take the stuff into account. I agree with you that there's like the rewards and recognition piece. I think tying it together is really powerful. Just the rewards piece. Because it's usually smaller dollars, if it's, if I just keep getting $3 here, $3 there, that's not as meaningful as the recognition from the team of, "Hey, why you're getting this." And I think those two combined are very powerful. We actually just launched a peer-to-peer recognition feature on our platform. Employees can do that. Can give each other those bonuses. Companies set the budget for employees, and then employees can give you those bonuses. But they have to say, "Hey, this is why I'm recognizing this person."
And then those funds can pool. And you can use them for virtually anything you want and we're still going on the tax tracking and all of that stuff. So it can cross country borders and just be really great way, especially in a remote environment for people to be connecting at an employee level. Rather than have it just always be a manager to employee.
I think it's really important to have that team recognition aspect. Yeah, as you're building your team and your culture and having that be reinforced.
[00:28:13] Scott: Especially with the remote benefits, you want to go on a topic-based. So let's give the example, maybe mental health. Honestly, a very big topic that lasts a year and a half. Every company should have like at the top of the priority list.
One of the benefits that I've seen is a lot of apps, so you can access a mental health professional via an app. One-on-one type meeting. But what happens in this scenario? It's a US-based product. They have US-based therapists. Now you have people outside of the US. So you obviously want to offer the same thing to them, but with this product they're using, you don't have access to that.
So maybe in those cases say, "Okay, no problem. We're going to reimburse you for an appointment that you have." In that case, is that taxable? And how does that affect where in the US you're just getting access to an app. So you're not, there's nothing, there's no monetary piece involved, but maybe outside of the US.
[00:29:04] Amy: That's taxable
So it's not going through your health insurance. That's taxable. Yep. That's where all these different perks are coming in. It's not just about the exchange of cash. It's about what you're actually receiving. That's taxable. So that's a challenge, but going to the concept though, so think about it.
You bring in some sort of mental health app into your organization. You are now saying as an under-trained not remotely qualified typically HR professional, this is the one way you should deal with your mental health. That is terrifying to me. I have absolutely no qualifications in saying how my team should manage their mental health.
I want no part in determining that journey. They need to work with actual professionals. So what you typically see with those apps, 3% to 5% of the team will use them. Very, small. So you can bring it in, but it's not going to actually have the impact. A much better plan, support their wellness, and let employees determine, do I want an app? Do I want to get running shoes? Because just going out and clearing my head is what I'm doing. Am I managing it through a therapist? Let employees determine that. And that works beautifully globally as well. Instead of getting into, hey, we've got this amazing app that could do harm if it's the wrong app for the wrong mental situation.
That is just, I want no part of that. I'm not a doctor. I'm not a nutritionist. I'm not a mental health professional. I should not be determining those things for employees.
[00:30:43] Scott: So maybe the tax piece is a real kind of crutch that helps companies move towards this topical based. Where instead of saying, "Okay, we're going to give $150 a month towards health and wellness."
And the fact that a mental health mobile app or running shoes or whatever it is, are all taxed in the same way. So in that place, the personalization is absolutely fantastic. If the tax is going to be saved, you can be getting the same thing. "Hey, for me, I could choose my running shoes and a Strava thing and bi-weekly massages ."And someone else is going to choose whatever else. The issue of tax doesn't come to play because they're each paying the same thing. All right. Very interesting.
[00:31:25] Amy: It is different for each country. So in some countries, that's where it allows for companies to some things are taxable in some countries and not in others.
So it allows companies to manage that as well. So that they can have that flexibility. What we do find is that most of the things that are taxable in the US are also taxable internationally. Is the way we look at it. There are some things that aren't taxed in the US that aren't even applicable globally, like student loan payments. Like it's just not a thing globally. We like debt in the US.
[00:31:57] Scott: No one, nowhere else has 50,000 to $200,000 a year of college tuition. That system is broken. We've seen quite a bit of the idea of Google and Facebook and companies looking to deduct salaries when people move outside of the area. Work remotely. I would really love to see it. Is it specifically location-based or is it going to be remote?
Because the thought of I just have to work remotely in San Francisco, I just don't want to commute. I like doing my things. I have a family. So if now, I'm working remotely in San Francisco, are you going to dock my pay because I'm not coming into the office or you're gonna allow me to keep the same salary?"
I think there were two conversations last season about this. The fact that they're looking to deduct the salary, do you see the same thing being done for benefits? Okay. Now that you're not coming to your office and we don't need to pay you as much, because now you're living in Boise, Idaho, or wherever you may be living.
Are they going to start looking at what we cut out from the benefits as well? Or is it just going to be the salary that you think is going to be where the cuts are coming from?
[00:33:10] Amy: I think the big cuts will be on their salary side because that is the big-ticket item. And you can't adjust health insurance based on location. Health insurance is your health insurance.
And so that's not something and that's the other big-ticket item. So what we have seen is there may be a difference between in-office and remote. But I've seen it go both ways. It depends on which behavior the company is trying to drive. So maybe more perks for people who are going into an office and they'll put commuter benefits and things like that.
They're trying to drive people back in the office because they've got a big footprint. They would like bodies in the building. Like all of that stuff. I've also seen the reverse where companies are trying to shrink their footprint and offering more benefits, more perks if you're willing to work remotely to help offset utilities, cell phone, internet, wellness, whatever. Because they're trying to say, "Hey, we want to incentivize you to continue working remote." So I've seen it both ways depending on what the company culture is and which behavior they're trying to drive. Versus it being a cut and dry, "Hey, you're remote. It gets cut." I haven't seen that behavior. I'm seeing a shift that it depends on within the company. What they're trying to say.
[00:34:24] Scott: Yeah, so it brings up, I think my last question. Which I promised we'd get to, and you leaned into it real well here. The idea of companies that are shifting more towards the remote setup. I've been being a believer in this concept that has spoken about it in multiple podcasts. Now that companies are saving thousands of dollars per year not having an office. Are those office parks, I won't call them benefits. Like you said, the chef, to keep you there to seven o'clock because we didn't want you to go home or the ping pong on whatever else it may be. Do they get re-imagined? The companies say, "Hey, we're going to take $1,500 per employee savings costs right now, take some of that money and give it back to the employee." So it used to be a coffee machine in the kitchen. Now we're going to give you a coffee delivery thing. There used to be snacks and whatever in the kitchen, now we're going to give you a snack box. Do you see companies that are shifting towards the remote setup saying, "Yes, we're saving a whole ton of money by not having an office footprint anymore, but we don't want to lose some of those things that keep kept people in the office?"
Obviously the utilities and the internet, I think should be mandatory across the board. But those little things like the coffee or the snacks or those little kinds of pieces. Do companies reinvent that for the remote? Are you seeing that at all?
[00:35:42] Amy: Not with one-off vendors because you continue to have the issue of not everyone wanting the same snacks, not everyone drinks coffee.
Even if you do drink coffee, maybe you're very particular about your coffee. So I don't see it as being remote delivery mechanisms for that. What we are seeing is stipends. They may include a food stipend that says, "Hey, we're going to support if you want to have that stuff delivered, cool. Go do that."
The vast majority of the employee perks, especially in the tech industry because it had the specific purpose of keeping people there. When that gets removed. Most employees don't that, especially as they get older and move into their thirties and forties, it's not about the food.
Like I can buy my own food and quite frankly, I want my own food anyway. But if you're going to let me use that, I would rather use it for running shoes or massage or yoga or whatever it is. So it's creating more of a stipend-based concept where I do think that the concept of perks is really important and it's shifted.
But now, instead of if you have a thousand-person company, you don't have one office with a thousand people, you have a thousand offices. You cannot manage that internally as a company. You have to allow for the employees to personalize on their own. And the only way to do that is with stipends because otherwise, you're going to have an entire massive team dedicated to who's got what address. Who's signing up for what subscription and all of that is taxable. That's the way that works. You get a coffee delivery system at home that's taxable. Snack delivery at home that's taxable. So instead of doing that, give the employees the freedom to flex between cell phone reimbursement, which is not taxable. To childcare. To whatever it is that you want and what you need in your new remote work situation.
[00:37:29] Scott: Super interesting. Super interesting. All right. We're gonna now jump into the final piece. Another one of the tests of new features for season two of the show.
I'm gonna give you five rapid-fire questions. The first idea that comes to the top of your head. Don't need to think about that more deeply. Are you ready to go?
[00:37:54] Amy: All right, let's do it.
[00:37:56] Scott: All right. Question number one, who's one remote leader that you look up to and why?
[00:38:02] Amy: I like Shelby Wolpe. So I, actually think you probably know her since she worked at InVision. I started the remote revolution early on and built systems and processes in a fully remote and remote-first company. And so watching what she does and how she approaches it, it's very thoughtful. It's very meaningful and strategic. And so I follow what she does and I think she's absolutely incredible.
[00:38:30] Scott: Amazing! Question number two might have the same answer, but just in case not. What's your go-to source for tips, tricks, ideas on how to do remote the right way?
[00:38:43] Amy: Yeah, Shelby, does have a lot of great content, but I'm also looking at all kinds of resources. Like I want to see our prospects. I talk to every one of our customers and our prospects and want to understand what they're doing. Which is what every HR leader is doing right now. It's a very dynamic conversation because no one has, aside potentially from Shelby, no one has a playbook. So they're all trying to figure it out for their nuanced team, for their nuanced situation.
So it's pulling ideas from other companies and other leaders. So it's a very ongoing conversation. And it's amazing the cool stuff that kind of bubbles up. Because there's just, you find little pockets of amazing ideas and so try and pull them together.
[00:39:23] Scott: Yeah. I love that idea. It's not pulling things and doing it very custom to your company because I've seen. Multiple companies that say, okay here's, the Gitlab, how to do remote? Okay. We're going to do it just like this. And obviously, it doesn't work because you're not Gitlab.
[00:39:41] Amy: Like you have to, it has to be nuanced for your team and what works for your team dynamic. Like for my team, doing a virtual happy hour would bomb. Most of my team doesn't drink. That's a terrible idea. Nobody would show up because that's not what they want to do. So you have to do things that are customized to your team's environment.
[00:40:02] Scott: Question number three. If a company wanted to go all-in on remote now, what would you tell them should be the first change that they embrace to make sure that they do remote work the right way?
[00:40:14] Amy: Ooh, you need to take a look at your tool stack. There are so many great, amazing tools out there for figuring out how you communicate in that new environment.
It's not replicating an office environment. Meeting after meeting. You're going to burn out your team. So it's really adjusting the way you work. I think really important. So I think looking at your tool stack and how you can get people really efficient sharing information and what works within your team.
Not everybody wants to work with a Wiki. Not everybody wants to work with Slack or Teams. So it's figuring out how to get the team to communicate in a way that is efficient when everybody isn't in back-to-back meetings all day.
[00:41:00] Scott: Completely agree. Question number four. What's one thing that folks would get wrong when they talk about remote work?
[00:41:09] Amy: Oh, assuming that it's temporary. Assuming this is just all we're going to go right back to the way things were pre COVID. That ships sailed. Like the idea of spending multiple hours a day in a car or a bus or a train to commute. Like human beings have figured out, you know what? I don't have to do that to get my job done.
So why the heck would I waste 10 plus hours a week of my life for no added benefit for anyone. So I think the folks that think that this is temporary and we're going to shift Ship sailed. We've proven for two years, we don't have to do that. So why would we?
[00:41:48] Scott: Yeah, I completely agree. Like question number one, that you're already answering question number two with this one, you've answered my last question. Which was going to be is the age of having to go to an office truly over. Obviously,
the both of us believe is completely true.
It's done. That ship has sailed.
[00:42:07] Amy: Yeah, it depends on the industry. There are some jobs where you do have to be in person. I get that. And I think there are some people who want to be in person. Yeah. So I think there will be pockets,. Tiny pockets of companies that are an in-office first culture, and they will eventually find and attract those people who want to be in office.
First. The question is, do they die before they find those pockets of people? So many people are going to be leaving those companies. And there's so much flexibility out there and it's not a privilege to have flexibility. It's a right. And so it's will those on-prem like companies, are they going to survive long enough to find their a hundred people out of the entire country that wants to be in that environment?
[00:42:54] Scott: Yeah I'm, not too positive about that. I think this is the Blockbuster moment. The future is crystal clear that it's required flexibility and any company that doesn't say, "Hey, we need to embrace this." Like Netflix and the cloud to me, that's the end.
Yeah. How can people find out more about you and about Compt?
[00:43:30] Scott: Fantastic. Amy, thank you so much for joining the show today and sharing the information. I certainly learned a lot. Especially around the tax piece. Which had no idea that access to a mobile app that you get as a benefit is taxable.
I think that certainly solidifies that idea of the topical-based things. Where if one person's going to get taxed and one person's not, then maybe it makes sense to try to give everyone the same type of thing . To potentially avoid taxes. But Hey, if all this stuff is taxed, you just give them access into an umbrella and say, "Whenever works best for you." For me, that solidifies the point. Awesome. So again, thank you so much, and until the next episode.