The Loop

Productive Workspace at Home

Filed under: Benefits

The pandemic may have made working from home (WFH) a necessity but, according to Global Workplace Analytics, 80 percent of workers consider telecommuting to be a job perk. That means many companies have already provided one of the most sought-after benefits by enabling them to work from home. 

It also means that, if and when employers call them back into the office, they’ll be taking away one of the most sought-after benefits that workers have been enjoying for more than a year. Worse yet, some employers won’t be recalling remote workers back onsite, which gives people the opportunity to seek the WFH job they want elsewhere.

Therefore, it may be in your organization’s best interest to allow workers who would like to work from home to continue doing so, at least part time. To make remote staffing a permanent model, you should think about long-term benefits designed to incentivize a productive at-home workspace.

To date, most employers have equipped their WFH staffers with the technology required for the job. Ninety-two percent of organizations have provided them with a laptop, 68 percent with a webcam, and 54 percent with a 2nd monitor so they can work and Zoom at the same time. With the pandemic still raging and the vaccinated status of the population still mixed, employers are contemplating different ways to promote a more productive at-home work experience. This may include purchases related to health and safety, such as a proper work desk and ergonomic office chair.

Obviously, working from home is a completely different environment than an office space. There is the potential for more distractions, ranging from children and the television to lawn mowers and barking dogs. To help workers stay engaged, employers should provide fundamental workstation tools and resources to make it both comfortable and appealing to stay focused on the work at hand.


For companies currently debating whether to provide WFH staff with furniture, research from Global Workplace Analytics contends that a one-time investment of $1,000 in home office furniture will pay for itself in a little over a month. In fact, the workplace research firm asserts that companies can maximize their return on investment (ROI) by setting up a program for  commercial-grade furniture with multi-year warranties. Also, employers have a range of different options on how to provide workspace furniture, such as:

  • Allowing workers to take onsite office furniture home
  • Providing workers with company discounts with office supply and furniture vendors
  • Reimbursing out-of-pocket purchases
  • Providing a one-time fixed stipend
  • Providing a monthly allowance, which also could be applied to monthly internet and cell phone bills

There are significant advantages to ensuring remote workers are equipped with high-quality, ergonomic home office furniture. Research has found it can improve productivity while at the same time reducing the potential for workers’ comp and healthcare costs. This is particularly important since a workplace injury or illness is subject to workers’ compensation if it occurs while at work, regardless of the location. One study concluded that the savings from preventing just one workers’ comp claim would pay to equip 350 workers with ergonomic office chairs.

Another popular option is deploying a sit-stand desk for at-home workers. This versatile desk system has been proven to increase productivity by up to 45 percent, which means it would pay for itself after 143 minutes of use.

A well-designed ergonomic workspace may incorporate furniture, devices, and tools such as:

  • Desk – adjustable (stand/sit) workbenches
  • Chair – arm rests, footrest, lumbar support, recliner for laptop users
  • Computer monitor – desk arm or wall mount, two monitors to optimize productivity
  • Desk accessories – tilting storage bins, file cabinets, wall mount storage
  • Overhead and task lighting – LED, low-pressure sodium, mercury, or fluorescent lights; window coverings (e.g., convert a sunroom into an office)
  • Personal accessories – blue light blocking glasses, vertical mouse, noise-cancellation headphones or earbuds

There is, of course, the question of what happens to office furnishings when a worker leaves the company, particularly if he has “borrowed” furniture from the office. In most cases, employers can avoid this awkward situation by writing it off, but consider all tax and logistic implications.

Enhance Skills, Knowledge, Credentials

Studies have concluded that, in general, telecommuters are more productive than onsite workers, which is largely attributed to reduced workplace distractions and more freedom to work during hours they find most productive. A recent study found that while offsite workers took more breaks during the workday, they also devoted more time to work tasks. In fact, more than half (56 percent) of in-office workers actively sought out distractions from work, compared to only 39 percent of remote workers.

Given their propensity for higher productivity in less time, employers may want to think about the best ways to deploy WFH time during the workday. A win-win incentive may be to offer additional learning and development opportunities, such as new technology courses, skills enhancement, and professional certifications. Often times these opportunities are available only to those who can pursue them outside of work hours. Now, you may want to consider offering these benefits to remote workers who exhibit high productivity. The ability to use workday hours to pursue an additional degree or skill certification can be highly incentivizing, and beneficial for both worker and employer. Consider the wide breadth of premium online courseware on any topic that interests them.

Health and Wellness Benefits

Since WFH staff are already working in isolation, keeping up a healthy lifestyle becomes even more important for physical and mental health. Consider offering a wellness platform that assigns a variety of health tasks every day. Employers can encourage participation and build a more health-conscious WFH culture by creating competitions, team challenges, and even Zoom classes for home workers with instructor-led workout, yoga, tai chi and meditation classes.

Child/Elder Care Benefits

Particularly during the height of the pandemic, people working from home may also had to and continue to look after their children at the same time. In some cases, even elderly parents moved in with their adult children. Obviously, this can generate a stream of distractions throughout the workday. Consider what benefits you can provide to help alleviate this stressful and energy-sapping environment, from a stipend to pay for in-home daycare to books, classes and activities to engage family members so that workers can stay focused on the job.

Fringe Benefits

There are a lot of fringe benefits that tend to happen spontaneously in the office, such as catered lunch meetings, birthday cakes, pizza, vendor gifts and impromptu games and pranks. Some of these perks spark joy in the office and create a congenial culture that remote workers miss out on. Consider ways to imbue some of the office joy to those who work from home, such as occasional food delivery services, flowers or other surprise gifts. Since these types of offsite fringe benefits are delivered to individual homes, take the time to tailor the incentive to each worker’s interests by paying attention to their favorite foods, purchases, or activities.

Surveys and Online Suggestion Box

Clearly the WFH staffing model is new territory. There’s no better way to find out what benefits are appreciated and which ones are a waste of time and money than simply asking your workers. Conduct periodic surveys, initiate informal conversations, and you may even want to offer an online, anonymous suggestion box to get honest feedback. These efforts can help employers plan for better rewards programs.

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