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Remote employee returning equipment: 5 steps to avoid the problems

It's 2024, and the challenges of retrieving remote employee equipment continue to pose a considerable problem. Companies have tried to develop their in-house strategies to address this issue. However, they still grapple with the complexities of recovering equipment when an employee departs.

In extreme cases, some companies have even resorted to legal recourse, taking individuals to court to reclaim their valuable assets and protect their data. 

This has impacted how most globally distributed companies with high growth operate, slowing their ability to expand internationally. Especially when equipping or transferring company-owned devices from one end of the world to another. 

In this short guide, we will explain how we handle the equipment returns of our clients in 150+ countries. If you are interested in learning more, check out our pricing.


Here is a short demo of how easy it is to offboard a team member using GroWrk. 


1. Have a remote employee equipment agreement or policy in place

remote employee returning equipment

Trust is one of the most important aspects of a remote working relationship.

It helps ensure that the employer is comfortable giving their remote employees equipment and that the employees know they are not being spied on while using it. 

Although you establish trust in the hiring process, many things can happen during employment that can break it. 

If the contract ends on bad terms, you can’t guarantee that you get everything back that you gave, just like in a romantic relationship (we all have that crazy ex). 

By having both parties sign a legally binding agreement, the employer is legally obligated to provide functioning equipment and the employee to return it once they stop working. The other option would be to offer a WFH stipend as part of your remote work lawsuit policy. Check out our employee equipment agreement and more essential IT equipment templates by following the link below.

return remote equipment


2. Start offboarding process

remote employee not returning equipment

In most offboarding scenarios before the COVID-19 pandemic, the terminated remote employee would typically receive an email from the IT or HR department asking to turn the laptop in.

If the remote worker left because they found a new role, they willingly go through the offboarding process.

However, if they were terminated, getting a hold of them through emails or calls might be difficult. People get busy, or they might purposely ignore the outreach and company policy.

This prolongs the recovery process until the supervisor thinks the home office equipment might be at the bottom of the ocean.

Once the employer finally receives confirmation that the remote first culture employee is sending the computer equipment, they must manually change their database's item and software status. 

The next step in this inefficient process is for the company to decide what to do with the equipment and where it will be sent.

If they don't already have a system in place, they will have to consider an employee’s apartment, storage facility, or a new remote employee for their onboarding.

returning equipment after quitting

At Growrk, you have an end-to-end inventory management suite that follows the life cycle of each item. All you have to do is select the employee and change their status to off-boarding. 

We automatically email and coordinate with you on where you want to send the equipment or place it in one of our global warehouses. 

Then, we handle everything to get it to the required destination.

3. Sending shipping materials

returning equipment

In the past, the IT or Human Resources department had to print the shipping labels and coordinate sending boxes to an ex-remote team member's house. 

Then, they had to track the box through a third-party service and wait to see that it was finally en route to where they wanted it to go. The problem is that these departments are on the hook until the employee sends the device.

Even worse, when they ask employees to send the device themselves, they have to pay out of pocket for the shipping materials and transportation expenses. This creates unnecessary friction in what should be a simple task.

At GroWrk, we have a global network of partners and warehouses. You can choose whether one of our partners will come to collect the device, someone in your company will do it, or the employee will keep the device. If you want a GroWrk recovery, you can set the date and time when it will happen.

Once the device is picked up, depending on the option you chose, it is transferred back to your inventory, and a tracking number is sent to you so that you know exactly how long it will take to get back to a storage facility in the region.

do I have to return work from home equipment

4. Is the equipment damaged, or does it need maintenance?

Without GroWrk, it may take weeks to send the equipment to a technician if the equipment is damaged. It must first be sent to another current employee or company storage and evaluated. If they discover any issues, then it gets sent to a technician. 

With our partners, there is always a technician on-site where you are storing inventory. So once the equipment arrives, you will be notified that the item status has changed to “Inspection.” 

If the item needs maintenance, we get a repair order telling us what is wrong. We then communicate that to you and change the item status to “Maintenance.”

returning equipment after quitting

If the item is damaged beyond repair or you no longer want to use it, we activate the retirement protocol and change the item status to “out of service.” 

5. Where does the equipment go next?

During the pandemic, it was expected that if a company didn’t have a dedicated storage facility, someone in the IT department would just have a stack of laptops sitting in their living room or wherever they had space. 

There are obvious concerns about security in this situation, and you have to factor in that now that one person is responsible for coordinating and sending the equipment once a new person joins. 

returning equipment after quitting

Our global warehouse partners will wipe any device and store it once it passes inspection or goes under maintenance. 

The item status is then changed to “wiping” and then "Ready for Use" once it is ready to be shipped out from the secure location as soon as a request is made.

employee equipment return form

There are no complications and no unnecessary time spent on logistics. All you have to do is submit where you want the equipment sent. The warehouse partner will send the device, and we will provide you with a tracking number. 

The item's status will change to "Processing" until it arrives at the new remote employee’s location, when it will go to "Delivered."  


What happens when a remote employee doesn’t return company property?


In the absolute worst-case scenario that you lose contact with a terminated employee and they still have company equipment, you aren’t left with many options.

In the United States, you can’t legally withhold the final paycheck from a terminated employee. You also don’t want to go through the excruciating process of filing a police report. 

If you contact a retrieval service, you have no central way of tracking the equipment and will have to manually update its progress as it finally gets back to your IT department. 

Plus, they don’t have global coverage, so forget about getting equipment back from disgruntled international remote employees.

GroWrk removes the conflict from any return process by acting as an intermediary between a terminated employee and the employer. There isn’t any need for either party to follow up because all the steps happen within the dashboard. 

The best part is that you can get the equipment back from anywhere. 

Employee equipment return form


Check out this template below if you need an employee equipment return form for your internal documentation. 

Equipment Description:

Model Number:

Serial Number: 

Condition: Good (turns on, no visible damage) ☐ Fair (turns on, scratches or blemishes to body) ☐ Poor (turns on, scratches or cracks in screen) ☐ Not Working

Description of damage:

Other Office Supplies Returned: ☐ Charger ☐ Case if provided

Name of Returnee: _____________________________________________________ Signature of Returnee: __________________________________________________ 

Name of Receiver: ______________________________________________________ Signature of Receiver: ___________________________________________________

Date of Return: ________________________________________________________


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

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