By Dillon Thomas

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Hundreds of Larimer County employees will receive an extra $1,700 this year as part of the county’s effort to promote social distancing. County employees who are mandated to work from home are qualified to apply for a onetime $1,200 payment as well as an annual $500 stipend to help cover work-from-home expenses.

(credit: CBS)

Qualified employees are those who are mandated to work from home due to not having their own private office space to work out of in a county facility.

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“Going in to COVID we needed to find alternative for space. COVID has made it clear we can function very well with our employees working from home,” said Christine Kuehnast, Employee Relations Manager for Larimer County.

Lisa Wempen, a mandated work-from-home employee, said she will be one of those who receives the $1,700 payment in 2021.

“My last year has been learning a new job in COVID, with things changing all of the time,” Wempen told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.

Wempen said she was thankful for the county’s decision to give her extra funds for working at home.

The money comes from the county’s already-set budget. While hundreds of employees qualify for the distribution of the funds, the county will be able to save money by giving away the stipends. Kuehnast said the county will cancel leases on some office space which will save them more money than they are handing out.

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Employees are given discretion on what they use their funds for once their applications for the stipends are approved by their superiors.

(credit: CBS)

“Things like desks, ergonomically appropriate chairs, printers. Maybe a storage cabinet with a lock on it,” Kuehnast gave as exmples of purchases funded through the program.

“It’s just going to be helping to pay the cost for my internet and cellphone,” Wempen said.

Kuehnast said the program is a “win-win” for all involved. Some will be able to get new items to improve productivity, others will be more inclined to enjoy their home office space and the county will save money on overhead costs related to space rental.

“It saves us on money and space, and also makes our employees happier,” Kuehnast said.

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“As an employee it just makes me feel supported,” Wempen said.

Dillon Thomas