While first imposed nationwide because of the pandemic, remote work has become an integral part of the economic landscape. It is uncertain, at this point, how many employees across the country will work remote indefinitely – nonetheless, it’s critical to start rethinking the relationship between companies and employees.
Remote worker policies have surged as of late, and we expect figures will continue to rise. As some companies return to the office on a hybrid schedule, remote work is still in play for a lot of organizations, especially small businesses and start-ups. Leaders recognize the benefits of a remote work environment (for example, reduced or eliminated rent), and we anticipate seeing this trend continue to grow. At the same time, we’re beginning to see remote worker policies make their way into legislation. This, we believe, can positively impact growing companies and individuals as a way to leverage incentives.
Remote Work and Economic Development in States and Communities
In a presentation given by A. Newbold of Ryan at the April 2022 Business Facilities LiveXchange Site Selection and Economic Development Conference, data shows that the number of people who work from home has risen by 159% since 2009. Further, 73% of all departments are expected to have remote workers by 2028. Many employees find that they are more productive working in the comfort of their own homes, have fewer distractions, and have less stress from the commutes to and from the office. Employers are more inclined to offer work-from-home options to recruit and retain top-tier talent and remain competitive in today’s employee-favored market.
From an economic development standpoint, remote work can impact both employees and businesses, as remote worker incentives are offered by state and local governments. One example of this is the Bloomington Remote program in Indiana, which offers remote-worker candidates a free lifetime co-working membership and local onboarding support to entice remote workers to move to Bloomington. The value of the co-working membership alone is of a great value, with rent for couple memberships starting at $662 a month. In addition, various cities and counties in Indiana (for example, Jasper, Muncie, French Lick and Greensburg) provide up to $5,000 as well as a mix of entertainment, recreational and cultural passes for those who relocate within the next six to 12 months.
Many other states have also implemented policies that benefit remote workers, ranging from student loan reimbursement to free lunch. The Choose Topeka program in Kansas offers financial incentives for remote employees living outside of Shawnee County that buy a home or rent within a year of moving. This includes $10,000 in financial incentives for buying a home, $5,000 in financial incentives for renting and $1,000 in free Jimmy John’s sandwiches. Other notable state policies include Alabama’s Remote Shoals program that awards participants $10,000 to move to the Shoals Area; Arkansas’ Northwest Arkansas Council Talent Incentive, which offers top remote working talent $10,000 (cash or Bitcoin) to relocate to Northwest Arkansas; and Ohio’s Talent Attraction Program Scholarship that provides up to $10,000 to college graduates to relocate.
The Business Owner Standpoint
From a business owner perspective, many states are also taking remote workers into consideration when offering incentives for job creation and relocation. For example, Oklahoma’s Remote Quality Jobs Incentive Act program offers a net benefit rate of up to 5% of gross payroll for remote workers. We also see this in Georgia with the Job Credit Tax Program, which allows work-from-home in rural areas to qualify for the job’s tax credit and allows employers to use 2019 employment levels for credits in 2020 and 2021.
By the looks of it, the remote worker policies are here to stay, and local and state governments are catching onto this as well. Incentives are a huge consideration when companies look to add new jobs or relocate to a new state. These new policies that account for remote workers can only be of more benefit as you make these decisions. Please contact our site selection and business incentives experts below if you have questions about your incentives for remote employees: