Delivering the Right Work From Home Equipment for Employee Success
May 7, 2023
According to industry estimates, up to 80 million (out of 255 million) desk jobs will be primarily remote by 2030. Since the pandemic, the massive rise in hybrid and full-time remote work means companies can no longer rely on the office environment to equip their employees. Remote workers need their equipment to stay productive while working from home. Delivering the goods for effective home offices is now a business-critical concern for HR and IT teams.
A practical work from home (WFH) setup involves more than just a laptop and a workspace. Remote employees need a workspace approach that helps them do their best work while staying healthy.
Home office essentials
Your remote employees need a robust tech setup that gives them, at minimum, the same working environment they'd have in an office building. While people's specific needs will vary based on your industry and your team's exact roles, a foundational set of devices that are critical to most home offices.
Essential work from home equipment includes a computer or laptop with one or more external monitors and accessories such as a wireless keyboard, mouse, mouse pad, and adapters or converters.
Beyond essentials, certain accessories make a real difference in primary equipment performance in modern work streams. Webcams are a must for video calls. In some cases, embedded laptop webcams aren't sufficient so employees may need external models like Logitech and Sony. Bluetooth headsets and noise-canceling headphones can be helpful for team members to manage acoustics in their home office environment.
Consider your budget when selecting equipment, but beware of bargain items, which can be counterproductive. An Intel study showed that over half of the surveyed employees said that outdated technology impacted their job satisfaction. If you can supply your employees with the latest and greatest, they'll be more productive and more likely to stay with the company.
Setting up a home office
Beyond the home office equipment essentials, it's important to consider the ergonomics of the home workspace. A well-designed home office setup can go a long way in alleviating physical and mental stress. Your employees can customize their own space and won't have to rely on the nearest coffee shop for a cozy seat and Internet connection. Whether or not you decide to fund or supply desk chairs and other furnishings, guiding your team with best practices will ensure they're making the best use of their home office furniture and other equipment provided.
At a fundamental level, employees should have a dedicated space for remote work to improve focus. Effective lighting is helpful for productivity (e.g., glare on monitors) and communications (desk lamps and ring lights to help employees show up well on Zoom calls).
Sound ergonomics are a part of any professionally designed office environment and should be part of your work from home program. Ergonomic chairs, laptop stands, and adjustable-height desks to support good postures improve enjoyment and engagement and prevent workplace injuries. Appropriately equipped, employees can prevent carpal tunnel injuries by adjusting desks and office chairs so that elbows align with desk height. Adjustable-height desks help employees avoid prolonged sitting throughout the workday.
Some employers utilize virtual ergonomic assessments from Humanscale and other providers to aid the home office design process and project management to deliver the best possible home office setup and employee experience.
Don't forget the connectivity
The rise of SaaS apps as the mainstay of enterprise software strategy means that every worker now relies on high-speed Internet connectivity to get work done. In a digital work environment, connectivity is one of the most critical "office supplies." For example, workers may no longer need a physical file cabinet but rely on cloud-based storage—reached via the Internet. The challenge is that while IT teams engineer office environments for plentiful wifi reach and Internet throughput, your home network doesn't get that level of engineering.
Employers sometimes supply home network equipment, including routers and mesh wireless devices, to ensure robust connectivity. However, in most cases, IT teams are left to deal with the endless variability of employee-managed network setups. As a result, IT teams are adopting Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM) tools that provide real-time workflow visibility from end user devices through home wifi and Internet connectivity to cloud apps.
Budgeting and tax considerations
Intelligent trade-offs should influence budget decisions about supplying and delivering home office equipment. Remote jobs can provide significant cost savings for businesses, with the savings in real estate, relocation, tax, and office equipment can be millions of dollars annually.
If you are incurring only some of these office-based expenses, investing in a rich set of IT and ergonomic equipment for employees is a wise investment since it contributes to employee productivity. This investment is essentially the redeployment of facilities or workplace services budget.
During the pandemic, many businesses instituted an employee allowance approach to equipping home offices, whereby employees would purchase directly from vendors such as Apple, Microsoft, or Amazon, then get reimbursed. However, this method has complex tax burdens on employers and employees since these allowances often qualify as income. As a result, businesses are shifting to IT-delivered solutions.
How to deliver the goods
Many businesses are transitioning from a one-time, pandemic-driven home office migration to a longer-term hybrid or remote workplace strategy. Once you have committed to an ongoing process of equipping a distributed workforce, you must strategically decide how to manage the entire equipment lifecycle. Office-based approaches don't work in a remote and hybrid work world, with its time, space, national border, and trade-zone barriers.
The challenge is that while IT and other teams must own the process of equipping workers, they need help to overcome these barriers. IT and HR workers were not trained, need to be resourced, and need support being motivated to handle complex and time-consuming logistics on top of their existing duties. The result is that many internally-driven remote work equipment processes suffer from sub-optimal service delivery, poor employee experience, and avoidable asset loss from un-retrieved devices.
Modern IT teams are embracing a cloud-based approach that modernizes the process of administrating equipment management workflows, delivers self-service employee experiences, and outsources physical operations.
Firstbase is the pioneer and industry-leading provider of cloud-based remote work equipment management, encompassing IT devices and ergonomic furniture. The Firstbase platform fuses SaaS automation and employee experience with a global physical operations engine and flexible procurement options. Firstbase helps businesses turn the remote work equipment process into a competitive advantage. Request a demo today to see how Firstbase can work for you.