The Four Steps to Equipping Remote Workers

The Four Steps to Equipping Remote Workers
Photo by Dell / Unsplash

Many IT teams are just starting to design sustainable practices for remote work. In this blog post, we’ll cover four basic steps for properly equipping home and flexible location workers. These steps are drawn from the Gartner research report “How to Best Equip Home Workers,” by Stephen Kleynhans, which is the Firstbase highlighted research report for January 2023. You can get that report until the end of January with complimentary access.

Shifting from crisis mode to best practice

In his report, Stephen Kleynhans addresses the reality that remote work is becoming a permanent fixture, and urges IT leaders to exit crisis thinking mode and adopt a long-term view of home working. As such, he recommends thinking about four steps to equip home workers, as illustrated below.

Establish Principles and Processes

One of the required shifts is ensuring that policies for supporting remote work aren’t simply handed down from the era when remote work meant traveling or road warrior types. Now, the reality is more often an employee who works full or part time from their residence or other personal locale. IT leaders must work with HR, finance, and facilities teams to build documented and established processes to meet current needs.

The reason this is so important is because it’s essential to preventing there being a class of disadvantaged workers due to their work location.  Overcoming isolation concerns, building positive collaboration, creating sound ergonomics, and meeting various work styles and needs are still important for the workforce. Making that a reality on a distributed basis is the challenge. Clear policies are the foundation.

Survey, Coach, Guide, and Set Clear Expectations

Once you have policies agreed upon cross-functionally, the next steps are to gather data on employee needs and preferences, for example via surveys. Then, use that information to create documentation in various formats so that employees can inform and help themselves without having to be in the same time zone. Publishing policies and guidelines sets clear expectations for the whole organization.

Coaching may be required. That doesn’t have to mean a top-down program,  but can take life as peer-coaching via Slack, Teams, or other collaboration tools and communication channels where employees can share experiences, answer each others’ questions, and help one another.

Provide a Versatile Kit of Equipment

The report details various types of IT equipment that need to be part of employee outfitting, but more helpfully delves into the issue of who buys and who owns. Kleynhans suggests four categories, per the graphic below.

The first category, tracked assets, can also be thought of as the assets that the company will want to retrieve at offboarding, in contrast to the startup kit that is provided by the company but that will not be collected at the end of the employee tenure.

Regarding workspace items, which mostly refers to furniture, these items may be employee-purchased but in some cases may need to be company supplied in an auditable fashion, depending on the region. Some countries have legal requirements to support ergonomic setups for home workers. Furthermore, finance teams may not want to run an allowance program due to tax complexities, and would rather have the company procure and send these items to employees.

A Modern Equipment Checklist Means Cloud Self-Service

The final step in the how-to diagram above is to create an equipment checklist. What does that mean practically, if you don’t want to be stuck in a world of manual spreadsheets and emails in terms of running your remote work equipment program? It means a cloud architecture. IT admins need to be able to define a catalog of equipment that employees can choose from via a self-service portal. Cloud-based software then allows admins to approve those choices. The software then queues a physical operations team to take care of logistics and fulfillment.

That architecture needs to cover the full employee journey from onboarding through offboarding, and the entire equipment lifecycle, including initial outfitting, one-off requests (like an extra monitor), replacements, repairs, and refreshes.

You can try to build that architecture, or you can turn to Firstbase. We built the industry’s first and leading platform for equipping remote workers.

Learn more

If you want complimentary access to the report, you have until the end of January, 2023. Get it here!  After that, we’ll be sharing a new Gartner report, so if you’d like to be informed about those, subscribe to our blog.

Finally, if you’d like to get more insight as to how Firstbase can help you automate and streamline your process to equip remote workers, request a demo or contact us at sales@firstbase.com