Fully remote business owners don’t need to worry about paying for an office, or office utility bills, or wasted gas money on a commute. Sometimes it’s even assumed that once you’ve hired a remote employee, they’ll just start working, and the only expense will be salary (this is not true).
Equipment for remote workers is the same equipment used by in-person employees, and you should still pay for it!
Just like management techniques: you don’t need to change much, you just need to consider your remote team, here are some examples and solutions to break out the cost:
Your new employees will need a computer, phone, and maybe a printer (maybe even noise canceling headphones). Over the past few years I haven’t really printed much, and I already have headphones, so those two might not be a big deal.
The computer and phone are non-negotiables though. If you don’t get them for employees, your team might get resentful. If you have people doing technical or graphics work, they need a high quality computer with the right OS.
I have used a CRM called Close.Io as my work phone, but not everyone is in sales. If your employees won’t be using a phone much, just pay for part of their personal phone bill (or all if you want to really wow them).
If certain team members need to use a phone often, sign them up for one of these VoIP apps or just get them a work cell phone, depending on call volume.
Yup, as a business owner you need to pay for this too.
If you had a bunch of employees in-office, this would be a necessary expense. You can be the judge of whether or not you’d like to pay for everyone’s entire internet bill. Your team is only using the internet for part of the, some owners will opt to only pay part of the bill.
How To Pay
If you are an established company, I would suggest buying up a few computers and work phones. Apple does a really good job with this and I’m told that they will work with you depending on volume. For this use case, you can buy computers, encrypt them, and ship them out to employees when they start. This may even serve as a tool to attract talent to your company.
Not everyone has enough cash to buy 10 new MacBooks and Iphones, so I really like the stipend model for companies on a budget.
In my first remote job, my boss gave me a $200/ month stipend to use toward equipment (which included computer, phone, internet, and anything else).
I personally like this model because I was able to buy a brand new MacBook right away and it was mine in perpetuity (I’m writing this post on it!). After about 10 months of working, the stipend paid for my MacBook and I ended up profiting a bit each month after internet/ phone expenses (don’t tell my old boss).
If you are providing employees with all the necessary equipment, this becomes less of a necessity. If you are paying for equipment with the stipend model, I would highly suggest putting together a checklist of items that your employees will need.
This is yet another example of consideration for remote workers. If you have in-office reports, they’ll just see what equipment everyone else has. Remote workers don’t have a desk neighbor (in most cases), if you provide them with a checklist, you’ll be doing them a huge favor.
Is This Necessary?
Do you need to do any of this? Of course not! But if you want to build a remote company where you are not constantly back-filling employees – you NEED to hook your employees up with the right equipment.
The story with contractors is a bit different. Usually, contractors and freelancers provide their own equipment, and if you provide them with equipment they may suddenly become employees (legally), so before providing them with anything make, sure you consult with an attorney.
If you have any suggestions for managing remote employee equipment please let me know, I’m always looking for ways to improve.