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Equipment/Furniture Needs Assessment

Equipment:

Telework as we know it has largely been made possible by technology. All organizations considering telework, whether large enough to have an IT department or not, will need to make a number of decisions about equipment, software, security, and other technology concerns.

The role of technology becomes more important as an organization’s commitment to telework increases from a few employees that telework occasionally to having a strategically distributed workforce. The discussion of telework technology is typically divided into five categories:

Data Access: A framework for making decisions about technology, particularly as it relates to security and accessing the organization’s network.

Infrastructure: Considerations about infrastructure needs and meeting those needs as the telework program expands.

IT Security: A discussion of ways to protect your data through software, training, and secure storage.

Equipment & Tools: Descriptions of the equipment and some of the many tools available that facilitate communication and collaboration among workers (not just teleworkers).

IT Support: Some thoughts about the type and degree of IT support required by telework.

Key technologies and services which are vital to the telework office include:

  • PC/ Software support – Laptop, docking station, access to coroprate software
  • Peripheral Support – Printer/copier/fax
  • Network Interface – Broadband Router for internet access (via DSL, cable)
  • Mobile phone – for voice communication with customers, co-workers and corporate
  • Security Resources – VPN/ Firewall solution, Authentication or Advanced Authentication device
  • Collaboration tools – such as a webcam, conferencing software 
  • PDA devices – for messaging and voice/data communication
  • Help Support Desk – for troubleshooting, disaster recovery and hardware/ application support
  • Technical Training – including policies, techniques and protocol
  • Administrative Access – for secure system and remote email interface

Because technology is so critical to successful teleworking, it is important for technology issues to be discussed throughout the planning process. The IT Director or Manager should be involved as technology decisions are made. Small employers may need to consult with a technology expert.  As no two companies are exactly alike, the technology needs will vary from organization to organization.  There are however, numerous technology vendors that have developed packages to support such programs to the upmost efficiency…it might make good business sense to investigate a variety of solutions and determine what will work best for your company’s equipment needs.

 

Furniture:

The importance of furniture in the telework world is slowly but surely making its way up the pole of priorities.  It’s safe to assume that any company sending its workers home would prefer them NOT to work at their coffee table or at a bar stool in the kitchen but it does happen.  Here are some key attributes to consider when evaluating whether or not supplying furniture for your employees will be part of your program.

Durable & Safe – for serious home workers, the workstation should be able to withstand a 40+ hour work week. Look for desks with appropriate warranties and product testing such as ANSI-BIFMA. Safety concerns can be drastically minimized by taking the time to investigate products with correct ergonomic support (both desk & chair).  It is also a good idea to provide home workers with information on ergonomics so they are aware of things like proper positioning, height adjustment, etc… It is not in the user’s best interest to work from a kitchen table or use the first desk or chair that comes along.  Furniture selection should be a considered purchase. The same care and attention placed on corporate office furniture should be considered for workers being sent home to work.

Click here for a more detailed description of ergonomics

Space Appropriate – Workstations should be of appropriate size and scale for the home and should be flexible enough to configure to a variety of work spaces. The worksurface should be large enough for all desktop equipment and still allow room for day to day activities, paperwork, organization, etc…  The workstation should also have adequate storage; some employers may require lockable storage for filing important documents at home.

Wire Management & Aesthetic Appeal – With furniture that is going in the home, there is often a greater emphasis placed on appearance and organization. Finish and design options as well as wire management and storage features are important to the end user.

 


Delivery & Installation:

Process Efficiency & Safety:  For companies that are sending workers home and equipping them with furniture, it is important to aide them in the installation process to avoid any injury during transport or improper assembly.  For those that prefer the DIY method, it is important to consider some of these factors:

  •  Where in the home will the furniture be placed? Is it near a main entrance or will there be difficulties i.e. upstairs/downstairs, navigating tight corners etc…
  •  Is there a layout plan in place? Some companies, like BBF, offer space planning services free of charge that will arrange a 2D & 3D layout to ensure correct configuration and placement to maximize efficiency of the space.
  • To get the most out of your workstation, proper detailing should be performed once assembled i.e. leveling and any other adjustments necessary.  Some companies go that last mile to ensure all packaging is removed and the workstation is cleaned and ready for work.

Timing/Cost Effectiveness:  There is a lot to be said for lead time, it is important to consider timing when implementing a telework program. Performing a complete home office set up should be timed according to the workers deployment to the home office.  A company that can cater to a tight timeline for furniture installation can prove to be quite beneficial in the planning process.  Obviously, cost effectiveness is major factor as well – in order to consider these services especially in large quantities it must be cost effective and match the program’s budget – consider the value of the furniture & service elements to determine if it is right for your organization.