When embarking on a remote working project, hardware requirements should be tackled early on. They might take some time to get in place and will require research and configuration by your IT department.
It’s not as simple as handing over a computer and sending your team member off to their kitchen, garden, or favourite café. Other hardware and accessories need to be provided, once you’ve figured out the minimum specifications needed.
There’s plenty to consider, so here we’re going to look at:
- Who’s responsible for hardware for remote workers
- Which pieces of kit should be provided
- How to maintain hardware remotely
In order to give you a solid grounding in the hardware requirements for remote workers.
Who pays for the hardware – the kit?
One of the eternal dilemmas when managing a remote project is; who provides the hardware? This is going to vary depending on your contracts and tax implications in your locality. The business or the employee may get certain benefits from buying the kit that’s need to work from home.
Depending on the type of work, there could be some very specialised and expensive kit that needs to be bought. A film editor, for example, will need a very powerful computer. A social media manager, on the other hand, will probably cope will with a mid-range laptop. Whether you should be asking either role to provide their own kit will depend on your agreement at interview.
A solution offered by many remote employers is providing an allowance for hardware that’s topped up by the user. As long as you provide enough budget to get your minimum requirements, it’s then up to the team member if they want to upgrade for personal use.
Specifications of hardware
Every role is different. What is an absolute essential for a administration job is barely a passing thought to an engineer. Here we’ll explore the items you need to think about providing or otherwise budgeting for.
Should you reasonably expect a remote worker to have their own computer? It’s not set in stone; your worker may be very comfortable with their own device or they may have a 10-year-old whirring chunk of computer.
What’s important is the device being used has a processor and RAM that’s up to any task you can reasonably ask for. Having fingerprint security could be a worthwhile investment to ensure data integrity and mitigate risks. A portable laptop will mean the tech can be moved between the office and home easily, too.
You still need to be able to stay in touch with your team, and the closest to a face-to-to meeting in a video conference call. This needs certain bits of kit, such as:
- A reasonably functioning webcam
- A good set of headphones – noise cancelling would be very useful
- A microphone, which can easily be part of a headphone set
- A light ring if you need to ensure your team looks presentable to external clients
A webcam might be standard in most laptops but don’t take it for granted. If you team already has these items be sure to run a test on them to ensure they meet the standards that you need.
You’re still responsible for providing a safe and comfortable working environment as an employer on a project. This stretches to providing tools like:
- An ergonomic mouse that plugs into a laptop
- A comfortable keyboard – laptop keyboards can get uncomfortable after prolonged use
- An additional screen if your team will be using multiple applications
- Digital sketchpads, tablets, and imaging equipment may be needed depending on the role
And ensuring that there is comfortable chair and desk at the right height is also important. A comfortable team member is a productive team member.
Maintaining your kit
Where your team is primarily located will be a big decider in how you deal with equipment maintenance. When you colleagues are able to come into the office, a laptop can be handed over to your IT team easily for updates and upgrades.
A fully location independent team that could stretch from Lisbon to Bali and everywhere in between will need a different solution. Providing an annual stipend to cover costs and consumables for hardware maintenance would be prudent.
Hardware requirements when managing a remote project go further than buying everyone a laptop. You need to make sure you understand what’s expected from each role, understand the specifications of everything they will need, and decide on a plan for who will buy the kit and be responsible for maintenance.
Having the right hardware in place will prevent costly delays trying to source the right tech in the future and make the whole project run smoothly. You’ll also be ensuring the team feels valued and cared for when you provide gear that makes their working environment more pleasant.