Remote Employee Returning Equipment: 5 Steps To Avoid The Problems

Remote Employee Returning Equipment: 5 Steps To Avoid The Problems

Before 2020, the logistics of a remote employee returning equipment was a niche problem. Companies figured out their own in-house solutions to get their equipment back when an employee left, or worst-case scenario had to take some people to court. 

Now, equipment inventory management is affecting the IT and HR departments of thousands of companies as 51% of all knowledge workers worldwide are expected to be working remotely by the end of 2021.  

It also impacts the many globally distributed companies that are growing at an incredible rate and need to transfer office equipment from one end of the world to another. 

In this short guide, we will walk you through how GroWrk handles the equipment returns of our clients in 150+ countries.  

1. Have A Remote Employee Equipment Agreement Or Policy In Place

signing contract

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

It helps ensure that the employer is comfortable giving their remote employee equipment and that the employee knows they 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 template here.

2. Start Offboarding Process

empty desk

In most offboarding scenarios before the covid 19 pandemic, the terminated remote employee would typically get an email from the IT department 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, it might be hard to get a hold of them through emails or calls. People get busy, or they might purposely ignore the outreach and company policy.

This prolongs the recovery process until the supervisor thinks that 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 the item and software status in their database. 

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

An employee’s apartment, storage facility, or a new remote employee for their onboarding are all options they will have to consider if they don’t already have a system in place.

employee offboarding

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 are automatically sent an 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

laptop delivery

In the past, the It or human resource department had to print the shipping labels themselves 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 here, is these departments are on the hook until the employee actually sends the device.

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

computer inventory management

At GroWrk, we have a global network of partners and warehouses so that once we know what you want to do with the device, we contact our partner to come and collect it.

Depending on their location, they will send a box with the shipping label to the ex-employee or come personally to pick up the device. 

The device is then transferred to their warehouse, and there is a tracking number sent to you so that you know exactly how long it will take.

4. Is the Equipment Damaged or Does it Need Maintenance?

In the worst-case scenario, if the equipment is damaged, it may take weeks before it is actually sent to a technician. It first has to be sent to another current employee or company storage and then be evaluated. If they discover any issues, then it gets sent to a technician. 

With our partners, there is always a technician on-site in their storage facility. So once the equipment arrives, you will get a notification that the item status has changed to “Inspection.” 

inventory management

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.”

If the item is damaged beyond repair or you don’t want to use it anymore, we activate retirement protocol and change the item status to “out of service.” 

5. Where Does The Item Go Next?

During the pandemic, it was common 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 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. 

company inventory storage

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 “Inventory pool” and is ready to be shipped out from the secure location as soon as a request is made.

inventory pool

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

Item status will change to "Order Processing" until it arrives at the new remote employee’s location when it goes to "Delivered."  

Recover WFH Devices

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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, you can get the equipment back from anywhere. 

Employee Equipment Return Form

If you need an employee equipment return form for your internal documentation, check out this template below. 

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.

Schedule a call now 


Growrk remote partners
GroWrk Team

October 15

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