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Providing equipment for remote workers in a distributed world



In 2024, about 16 percent of global companies are fully remote, according to Forbes. That's an 8 percent increase from 2021.

Although remote work is still on the rise, providing equipment for remote team members remains a complex endeavor for companies. 

Compliance issues, high costs for sending equipment across international borders, and supply chain problems hinder new employee onboarding times and, ultimately, business growth.

To handle this logistics gap, GroWrk has developed a solution that makes providing equipment for your globally distributed team easy, safe, and efficient. 

This article will discuss why it’s essential to provide the right equipment to remote workers, how to do it, the type of hardware and software that employees need, best practices, and why doing so in-house is so expensive for companies.

 

providing equipment for remote workers
 

Why it's essential to provide the right equipment to remote workers

Having the appropriate equipment to work from home is fundamental for preserving productivity and safeguarding data security. A comprehensive equipment policy ensures staff are effectively equipped, boosting well-being and job satisfaction. Properly outfitting remote workers with the right home office setup minimizes health risks and increases performance, making them feel valued and supported.

Additionally, an efficient system for work from home equipment requests streamlines logistics and resolves IT issues promptly. This strengthens your organization’s support for its distributed teams and affirms its commitment to adapting to modern workforce needs, ultimately fostering a more productive and secure work environment.

work from home send equipment

Ways to provide equipment to remote employees

When it comes to equipping remote teams, you have several strategies at your disposal. One common approach is the direct provisioning of work from home equipment. This method ensures that all employees receive standardized, company-approved devices and tools, maintaining consistency and compliance across the board.

Alternatively, you might opt for a stipend or reimbursement model, where employees purchase their own equipment according to specified guidelines and budgets. This flexibility allows staff to choose equipment that best suits their individual needs and comfort, potentially boosting morale and productivity.

Another strategy involves leasing equipment, which can be a solution for businesses looking to provide high-quality technology without the upfront investment. Leased equipment can be easily updated or replaced, ensuring that employees always have access to the latest technology.

Each of these approaches has its benefits and can be tailored to fit your company's specific needs and resources, ensuring that all members of a distributed team are well-equipped with the necessary equipment and ready to perform at their best.

remote work supplies

What hardware and software should you provide for remote workers?

This depends on the country’s legal requirements where each employee is working, but they should at least have the following:

  • IT equipment
  • Office equipment
  • MDM software
  • Home office essentials

IT equipment

Laptops

Providing high-performance laptops is essential to facilitate productivity and ensure seamless operation across distributed teams. GroWrk offers top-tier models designed to meet various professional needs:

  1. MacBook Pro 16-inch and 14-inch: Equipped with the new M3 Pro chip, these MacBook Pros offer 18 GB of RAM and impressive storage options of 1 TB and 512 GB, respectively. The 12-core CPU and 18-core GPU deliver outstanding performance and graphics capabilities, ideal for creative professionals and developers alike.

    MacBook Pro 16-inch
  2. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon G10: This 14-inch model is powered by an i7-1270P processor with 32 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD, making it perfect for business professionals who require robust performance and reliability in their computing.

    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon G10
  3. Microsoft Surface 5: With a 15-inch display, the Surface 5 is another excellent choice, featuring an i7-1265U processor, 32 GB of RAM, and 1 TB of storage. This device is well-suited for those who need a larger screen and substantial storage for complex projects.

    Microsoft Surface 5
  4. Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320: This compact 13.4-inch laptop does not skimp on power, sporting an i7-1360P processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a 512 GB SSD. It's an excellent option for those who need a highly portable yet powerful device.

    Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320

 

Find out how to set up laptops for remote workers here.

Office equipment

Other office equipment that remote employees need include monitors, adjustable desks, and ergonomic chairs.

Monitor 

A high-quality monitor is key to reducing eye fatigue and ensuring that employees do not have to strain their necks to see their work clearly. It's important that monitors can be adjusted for height and angle, allowing workers to set them at an optimal position to maintain a good posture without leaning forward or looking down.

Desk

Adjustable desks are crucial in an ergonomic office setup. Options such as standing desks or those with adjustable heights encourage movement and allow employees to change their working position throughout the day. This variability helps prevent the stiffness and discomfort associated with prolonged sitting, promoting better circulation and muscle activity.

Ergonomic chair 

Properly supporting the spine is critical, and ergonomic chairs are designed to do just that. These chairs are adjustable to fit different body types and work styles, ensuring that each user can maintain a naturally aligned posture. Features such as lumbar support, adjustable armrests, and seat depth help keep the back straight and the shoulders relaxed, significantly reducing the risk of developing back pain.

MDM software

For remote teams, Mobile Device Management (MDM) software is essential. It allows IT managers to oversee and secure employees' laptops, smartphones, and other devices from a central location. This software simplifies the configuration and deployment of apps, ensures that all devices adhere to the company’s security protocols, and enables remote troubleshooting and updates.

MDM solutions enhance operational flexibility by facilitating zero-touch enrollment and deployment across various operating systems. Providing this type of software supports a robust security posture, ensuring that data remains protected, and compliance standards are met, regardless of the employee's location.

Home office essentials

Creating an effective home office for remote work requires careful selection of key components to ensure both comfort and functionality. A strong, stable internet connection and a VPN are essential for maintaining network security and ensuring reliable access to corporate systems. When working remotely, this robust connectivity is also crucial for supporting high video quality during video calls, which is vital for seamless communication and effective collaboration with your colleagues and clients.

To improve ergonomic comfort and prevent repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, investing in ergonomic keyboards and mice is critical. These devices are designed to keep the hands and wrists in a natural position during long work hours. Ensuring employees have access to these ergonomic peripherals not only boosts their productivity but also safeguards their long-term health and well-being in remote work setups.

remote working equipment

 

The best practices for providing equipment for remote workers

To effectively equip your distributed teams, establish clear equipment policies, offer choices in ergonomic tools, and provide necessary technology like laptops and VPNs. Regularly updating these items and ensuring they meet security standards are crucial for maintaining productivity and safeguarding company data in distributed work environments.

Avoid any compliance issues

Since 2020, 25 percent of businesses have covered a portion of the cost of home office equipment for their remote employees. Our research into remote companies also revealed that only 38% provided a WFH stipend or purchased laptops for their employees.

However, in 2024 it is becoming standard for companies to equip their remote workers at least with a laptop when they work with or have access to customer data. 

The highest information security standards (SOC2, ISO 27001) prefer companies to own the equipment used by their employees so that they can control the data that lives in those devices.

It makes sense for remote employees to have a unique work device in case their personal device is compromised.   

Understand what your employees need

The first step is to make a checklist of essential equipment your employees need to perform their jobs remotely. Things like a fast laptop, a laptop stand, and a widescreen monitor should be standard. 

Employers have three options to provide the equipment: Purchasing new devices for employees, using current inventory, or offering a WFH stipend to cover associated expenses

The most sustainable option is to use a third-party service like GroWrk to give company equipment to remote employees so you do not take time away from their onboarding. Then, when they leave, they collect the equipment and give it to the next employee.

To make onboarding as fast as possible, send over an equipment survey to determine what an employee is missing and compare that to your work-from-home equipment checklist. All work-from-home equipment must meet a set of standards your company creates, which can be outlined in an IT onboarding checklist.

work at home equipment solutions

Go through local provisioning requirements

The next thing to consider is including anything their location legally requires. 

Since employment laws usually vary by jurisdiction, it is crucial that you fully understand the laws that apply in their case. If two or more laws apply to the worker, your company should follow the one that's most generous to the remote worker. 

Globally, many states are adopting detailed policies. For example, Spain and Turkey require employers to equip remote workers with the necessary equipment. New laws also require formal remote working arrangements between companies and their workers.

It’s becoming compulsory to provide equipment for working from home, reimburse additional expenses, and ensure a safe and healthy environment.

10 US states require employers to reimburse WFH employees for certain work-related expenses. California is the strictest, where anything the employee deems “necessary” has to be covered. 

Continuing this trend, Croatia and Russia require businesses to compensate remote workers for all remote work expenses, including phone bills, utilities, and home equipment. Mexico also drafted a similar telework law for remote employees.

Ensure equipment meets health and safety regulations

The employer's responsibility is to ensure that the tools provided to their remote worker and their workplace meet the required standards and safety regulations. Again, these vary from region to region. 

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers are not required to inspect workplaces.

Employers must ensure safety because they can be held liable for any accidents caused by equipment, processes, or materials employees use while working from home.

It is probably best if an employee receives any heavy furniture to set up, such as a desk or chair, that they have a service set up for them. The last thing a company needs is for someone to throw out their back before even starting the job.

Also, consider that under UK H&S requirements, employers must provide adjustable monitors. Fire safety standards in the EU are very strict, and you need to use specific fabrics and foams.

Have a plan to maintain the equipment

Just like our health, equipment needs to be taken care of, or it risks breaking down. The company’s responsibility is to create an agreement that requires scheduled maintenance and trains employees to use equipment properly. 

The best way to do that is by having your remote worker sign an employee equipment agreement. This way, each party’s responsibilities and what to do if there are issues with any company-provided tools are clearly established.

For example, how to replace a device, file a complaint, etc.

Create a Work From Home policy

This remote work policy isn’t just about how many days employees can work from home; it also helps you avoid compliance issues and ensures stable employee performance.  

Your policy should answer questions such as:

  • Equipment needed to work from home

  • How often to upgrade or replace tools

  • How to use tools

The working-from-home policy should be published in your company knowledge database so any employee can readily access it. This can be in a shared drive like Google or Dropbox or a virtual HQ like Notion. 

work from home equipment policy

Why is providing remote workers' equipment so expensive? 

Providing equipment for remote workers involves more than ordering products. It involves tedious processes, including approvals and delivery. 

Here are some of the main reasons why it is so expensive:

  • It can take workers hours to study local laws and ensure compliance. In some cases, you may have to hire the services of a foreign lawyer. Tools bought for employees are taxed, and stipends are considered an expense. You may need the help of a professional to take care of tax implications and ensure you don’t pay more than your fair share.

  • Several departments are involved in the process. HR must handle the logistics issues, while the IT department must ensure that the network infrastructure supports growing needs. Then, the supervisor or purchasing department must find vendors, crack deals, and order the required goods.

  • The costs that affect international employees include customs duties and supply chain delays. Shipping costs can run into the thousands based on the destination and the weight or nature of the product.

  • Quality remote working equipment isn’t cheap. As a business, you will have to invest in a good laptop, Wi-Fi routers, and furniture. There are many remote work equipment sellers, and finding the best deal can be arduous.

In addition to all this, there are times when things don’t go as planned, and you have a remote employee returning equipment due to a faulty piece or contract running out. You will have to cover these expenses. 

remote work equipment provided

Work at home equipment solutions

The best way to address these challenges is to partner with a company that eases these pressures and helps you save time and money. GroWrk has a team that understands the needs of remote employees and the dynamic realities of a distributed company.

It doesn’t matter where or how many remote workers you have; GroWrk can deliver laptops and other devices to over 150 countries. We offer an intuitive dashboard that can onboard or offboard employees in minutes. 

Our global network of vendors and warehouses bypasses customs taxes or shipping fees, so you can purchase from our catalog or store your inventory without worrying about additional costs. 

With our end-to-end wfh inventory management, you will never lose track of your hardware. Receive real-time notifications when devices need maintenance, are being shipped, or have been delivered.

Get a customized quote for your company and keep growing your distributed team, regardless of whether you want to procure equipment for new hires in Latin America, Europe, Africa, or Asia

Grow remote with GroWrk. We provide and manage laptops, devices, other equipment, and services to remote teams in over 150 countries.

Schedule a call now 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it no longer common for remote IT workers to be supplied with equipment?

No, it's still common for remote IT workers to be supplied with equipment. Many companies provide necessary hardware and software to ensure their remote IT teams have the tools required for effective and secure operations, supporting both productivity and compliance with IT standards.

Do companies pay for laptops to work from home?

Yes, many companies pay their remote employees for laptops. Providing laptops ensures that all team members have access to company-approved hardware that meets specific security and performance standards, which is essential for maintaining productivity and safeguarding sensitive data in distributed work environments.

Do companies pay for home office equipment?

Yes, many companies provide or reimburse for home office equipment as part of their support for remote workers. This can include essentials like desks, chairs, and monitors. Policies vary by company, with some offering stipends or specific items to ensure employees have a functional and ergonomic workspace.

Can I write off office equipment if I work from home?

If you're self-employed, you can often write off home office equipment as a business expense on your taxes. For employees, the ability to claim deductions for the equipment varies based on local tax laws and the specifics of your employment arrangement. It's best to consult a tax professional for advice tailored to your situation.

How do I get equipment back from remote employees?

To retrieve remote working equipment, have a work-from-home equipment policy in place and set up a clear process that includes providing prepaid shipping labels and packing instructions. Utilize tracking services to monitor returns and consider employing retrieval services to manage the logistics efficiently. Remote management software can also secure devices until they are returned.

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