Should You Standardize Your Remote Workers’ Home Offices?

Ergonomics Furniture Productivity

home office with green desk and haworth task chair

Can you think of any better way to start the day than getting into your freezing car and driving off into the dark and dreary morning to head to the office? 

Shockingly, some people can and coming off the heels of COVID-19 social distancing measure that temporarily shut down many offices, the ranks of those who would prefer to work remotely from home have swollen. 

If you are finding yourself in having difficulty deciding if allowing your team to work remotely is the right bet for your organization, take a look at our article comparing the pros and cons of remote work.

However, if you have decided to allow at least some of your team work remotely, my question to you is this: Do you have a plan in place to enable them to do their best work, from wherever their chosen “office” might be?

Why Would I Provide Office Furniture and Technology to My Remote Team?

Almost all our customers are facing, or have faced, this very question.  While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, we have learned that there are a few guiding principles that you can follow to ensure you and your team remain productive and loving the way you work, regardless of where that work might take place.

  1. Setting your remote team up with productive workstations is setting yourself and your team up for success.

Some organizations have been actively resisting the requests to equip their remote staff with office furniture like desks or task chairs and technology such as printers or scanners.  One argument supporting that line of thinking is that you have already purchased furniture and equipment for your office, who wants to pay for it a second time?  Others may be afraid that it will be challenging to get their assets back if the employee stops working for them.

If you make the decision not to equip your team with furniture and technology at home, however, you very well miss out on the primary benefit of allowing your team to work remotely… letting people choose to work in a way that is most productive for them. 

  1. Eight hours of stationary computer work at home carries just as many ergonomic risks as eight hours in an office.

Most employees do not have experience buying office furniture and may shy away from investing in high-quality, ergonomic office furniture if left to furnish their own home offices.  A team member working primarily from a kitchen table is a recipe for ergonomic injuries that will plague the health, morale, and productivity of that team member for months or years. 

Buying your remote team members ergonomic task chairs, monitor arms, and keyboard trays may appear to be an unnecessary expense at first glance. However, if you believe your in-office team should use these tools, why would your remote team be any different?

What Furniture, Technology and Tools Should I Buy for My Remote Team?

Next, let us look at what tools you should be providing your remote team.   According to a randomized study conducted by Procurify, the most requested piece of furniture or equipment for a home office was a height-adjustable table or sit-stand desk.  The second most requested?  An ergonomic task chair.  Ergonomics is clearly front and center on the minds of remote workers.

Here is the full list from Procurify:

  1. A sit/stand desk 18.00%
  2. An ergonomic chair 15.67%
  3. A new computer monitor 14.67%
  4. Headphones 11.50%
  5. A printer 9.67%
  6. A laptop stand 9.00%
  7. A wireless keyboard and mouse 7.00%
  8. A Keurig coffee maker 6.00%
  9. A yoga mat and ball 4.67%
  10. A high-end water bottle 2.00%

While we agree with most items from that list, based on our experience setting up healthy, productive work environments, we believe that end-users are missing a couple of essential tools.  For example, if you are going to use an external keyboard and mouse for your laptop (and you should), it is worth investing a few more dollars to pick up an adjustable keyboard tray as well. 

Many people also forget to consider the lighting of their workspace.  Our eyes need drastically different light levels when working with paper documents as when using a computer.  A desktop task light can make a world of difference if your home office has insufficient or inconsistent lighting.

Should You Let Your Team Pick Their Furniture or Should You Pre-Select a Standard?

Now that we have looked at why you might want to purchase furniture or equipment for your remote team members and what products you should consider, let’s look at how you will provide those products.

One approach is to actively procure all the equipment on behalf of your team members. Since, unlike buying furniture or tech for your office, each of your team member’s home offices will vary in size, accessibility and connectivity, this method can be much more complicated.  However, it will ensure consistency in the price and quality of the furniture and equipment.

An alternative approach is to give each remote worker an allowance or reimbursement to go out and source their office furniture and tech. While this approach can be more straightforward administratively, it can become a significant time (and money) sink for your remote team members without experience buying these kinds of products.

A third approach our customers from which are finding success is a blended approach where the organization pre-selects one single vendor and a restricted menu of options.  They then allow their team to place orders (either through their manager or directly to the vendor, depending on their business’ policies) for the products this menu, which best fits their needs. 

This third, blended approach maintains a consistent product quality across the full team as well as allowing remote team members the freedom to select solutions that make sense for their home and work situation.

Want to Discuss Pre-Selecting Home Office Furniture or Technology for Your Team?

Since COVID-19 initially set the business world scrambling for ways to keep operating without congregating in an office, our team of Account Managers have been helping businesses from across Atlantic Canada navigate the new world of work.

You are an expert at what your business does. Our team are experts at designing and selecting economical, ergonomic, and productive workspace solutions. Let us help you get back to doing the work that creates value for your business, your customers, and your team.  Ask for a free consultation today!

Cory Porteous
Director of Marketing & Inbound Business Development
Office Interiors

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