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Providing Equipment for Remote Workers in a Distributed World

Providing Equipment for Remote Workers in a Distributed World

About 16 percent of global companies in 2021 are remote, and we predict that it will be the default working arrangement for distributed teams in the coming years.

While hiring remote workers offers several benefits like reduced costs and access to better talent, providing equipment for remote team members is more complex than any company imagined. 

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

According to Gartner, remote workers are expected to represent 32 percent of all employees worldwide by next year, so distributed companies need to figure out this logistics gap quickly. 

Luckily, GroWrk has developed a solution that makes providing equipment for distributed teams easier. This article will discuss ways to reduce compliance risk and ensure your employees have access to the tools they need to work remotely.

distributed team

How to Avoid Any Compliance Issues

Since 2020, 25 percent of businesses currently cover 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, it might become standard for companies to equip their remote workers as many countries are making it a legal requirement. 

Not providing office equipment or covering internet and electricity bills can now result in compliance issues in several states in the U.S and worldwide. 

The consequence? Hefty legal fees.

Even if you hire workers from places with no legal requirements, providing office supplies is still a great idea. The Institute for Employment Studies found that poor furniture and equipment can reduce productivity and increase the risk of health-related issues.

international compliance

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, using current inventory, or offering a WFH stipend to cover associated expenses. 

The best option is to give company equipment to ensure quality and not take time away from an employee’s onboarding to purchase devices.

To make the process as fast as possible, send over an equipment survey to determine what an employee is missing from your work from home equipment checklist. All work from home equipment provided must meet a set standards that your company creates.

work from home equipment

Go Through Local Provisioning Requirements

The next step is to include 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, the one that's most generous to the remote worker is the one your company should follow. 

Requirements appear to be stringent in Europe. Germany, for example, now offers a €600 tax rebate for remote workers. Employees that hire remote workers in Spain will need to have a formal remote working arrangement with their workers (signed document).

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

international compliance

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. 

On the other hand, Croatia and Russia require businesses to compensate remote workers for all remote work expenses, including phone bills, utilities, and home equipmentMexico also drafted a similar telework law this year for remote employees.

Ensure Equipment Meets Health and Safety Regulations

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

According to OSHA, employers are not required to inspect workpaces in an employee's home, but in Ukraine, they are!

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

ergonomic equipment

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 it up for them. The last thing a company needs is for someone to throw out their back before even starting the job.

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

Have a Plan to Maintain the Equipment

Just like our own 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 are clearly established and what to do if there are issues with any of the company-provided tools.

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

Create a Work From Home Policy

This remote work policy isn’t just how many days they can work from home; it also helps you avoid compliance issues and ensure no mishaps with employee performance

employee equipment agreement

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 that any employee can readily access it. This can be in a shared drive like in Google or Dropbox or a virtual HQ like Notion. 

Why is Providing Remote Workers Equipment so Expensive? 

Providing equipment for remote workers isn’t only about 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 as 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 the purchasing department needs to find vendors, cracks deals, and order the goods required.
  • The costs that affect international employees, including 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. You will have to invest in a good laptop, WiFi routers, and furniture as a business. There are many remote work equipment sellers, and finding the best deal can be an arduous process.

why providing remote workers equipment is so expensive

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 reasons such as a faulty piece or contract running out. You will have to cover these expenses. 

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. 

via GIPHY

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

You will never lose track of your hardware with our end-to-end inventory management suite. Get 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 in these exciting times for remote work.

What equipment should you provide for remote workers?

Again, it depends on the country’s legal requirements where they are working from, but every worker should at least have:

  1. Laptop
  2. monitor
  3. desk
  4. ergonomic chair
work from home setup

     

    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 

     

    Growrk remote partners
    GroWrk Team

    November 24

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