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Most Employees Don’t Like Their Home Office Set-up — Here’s How to Fix This

Published 9 months ago • 5 min read

Most Employees Don’t Like Their Home Office Set-up — Here’s How to Fix This

Several years after the pandemic forced a mass shift to remote work, many people working from home still don’t have the right set-up to work comfortably. Research from Logitech finds that most employees are struggling with video (89%), audio (85%), or ergonomic (77%) issues in their work-from-home office.

In addition, 64% of workers have poor or inadequate light in their homes, and 58% struggle with distracting noises in their homes while on calls. Taken altogether, these issues could be having an outsized impact on remote worker productivity and engagement.

In fact, a recent study from Steelcase across 10 countries finds that ergonomic discomfort is a top issue that hurts people’s ability to get their work done from home. And in a review of 250 case studies, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries found that companies that implemented good ergonomic solutions (resulting in more efficient workstations) increased employee productivity by 25%.

While some organizations took steps to equip their workforce at the onset of full-time remote work, Logitech’s research reveals there’s been little change in the status quo. For example, fewer than 40% of IT decision-makers say their company provides external webcams, headsets, or other accessories that optimize audio and video performance — even at organizations where employees have been meeting remotely for years.

Faced with a lack of support from their employer, workers are trying to understand the challenges they experience working from home, as well as the solutions that might benefit them. This has placed an unintended burden on employees and their managers. Furthermore, most people are struggling unnecessarily with issues that are fairly easy to solve with today’s business-grade devices.

Proactively equipping workers with the tools and equipment they need is one of the easier ways to address challenges that have stemmed from a suddenly transformed world of work. In today’s article, I’ll describe the 4 steps you can take to improve the work-from-home environment for your team members. Let’s take a look.

Step 1: Survey your employees

You might find yourself surprised by some of the findings I shared, and think it’s unlikely that such a high percentage of your team members are struggling. However, unless you’ve asked your employees how they’re feeling, there’s no way for you to know.

In fact, there’s a good chance your workers may be hesitant to speak up about any challenges they’re facing. They may think they’ll be singled out for complaining, or fear they’ll be seen as ungrateful for their remote work arrangement.

Many people are also still using tools that they grabbed from their office desk and took home during the pandemic. They simply aren't aware that better tools exist, or that their IT teams would happily supply those tools.

With this in mind, I’d recommend doing an anonymous employee survey. Be sure to ask questions about all of the tools and technologies that employees use in their remote work environment, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. It’s also important that you survey workers about noise, lighting, and even clutter, to understand whether other factors could be inhibiting their productivity.

Part of your initial assessment should include questions about how employees feel at various points during the workday. For example, you might ask:

  • Are workers experiencing eye strain or headaches?
  • Do they suffer from neck, back, or hand pain?
  • Do they find themselves less productive and fatigued at certain times of the day?

These are all pain points that can be addressed with the right equipment, and it will be helpful to have some baseline measurements so you can evaluate the effectiveness of the solutions you put in place.

Step 2: Define organizational requirements

Based on your findings, you’ll need to determine what the next steps will look like for your organization. Any changes you enact will need to meet your company’s budget and security requirements, be compatible with the cloud platform you use (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet), as well as deliver what your employees need to be more productive and comfortable.

Keeping all of these requirements in mind is no small task, and it could get overwhelming. That’s why it’s a good idea to collaborate with an experienced hybrid solutions provider, for example Logitech, to guide your planning and decision-making.

Step 3: Recommend and deploy tools and solutions

A variety of tools can contribute to enhanced performance and comfort for employees’ personal workspaces:

Mice and keyboards: Working with a keyboard and a mouse for long hours involves a lot of repetitive movement. Having bad posture and the wrong equipment for the job can lead to fatigue, discomfort, and even pain. For users in pain, ergonomic mice and keyboards are a game changer.

Earbuds and headsets: Computer speakers, mics, and consumer-grade headsets can make it hard to hear and be heard. Equipping employees with business headsets and earbuds built for work calls can make a world of difference. Look for options that are lightweight, comfortable, and offer noise-canceling features.

Webcams: Beyond having great audio, employees also want to be seen clearly. Video problems employees face are largely due to the use of built-in cameras in computers. High-quality webcams will deliver fantastic image quality, and many also have options for light correction and auto-framing.

Furniture: With over 3 out of 4 employees suffering from compromised ergonomics, it’s a good idea to invest in ergonomic desk chairs and adjustable desks. You might also want to communicate with your staff about why working from their sofa or bed is not a good idea, from both a productivity and comfort standpoint.

Lighting: Bright/daylight light is often considered the most ideal for home office use. This light is the least likely to make your eyes hurt or to lead to squinting while you are working. This is also a light tone that has been shown to help increase wakefulness and to ward off mid-afternoon sleepiness.

Noise and distractions: You can also make suggestions to help employees improve other aspects of their home office. For example, if workers share that they’re struggling with a cluttered workspace, consider a communications campaign around how this can affect their ability to focus and the steps they can take to address this issue.

Step 4: Iterate and maintain a feedback loop

Although your employees will surely be pleased with an upgraded home office, it’s important to maintain an ongoing feedback loop to understand their evolving needs and preferences. This will allow you to make adjustments as needed so you can continue optimizing their environment.

In addition to surveying your team members about their likes and dislikes, don’t forget to ask some of the questions I mentioned earlier about pain points (e.g., whether they’re experiencing fatigue, back pain, etc.). You may also want to examine some of your company’s productivity KPIs, to see if the implementation of better home office devices has affected these metrics.

It’s time to rethink how you equip your remote workers

The needs of the workforce have changed, yet many workers are still trying to get by with a suboptimal home office set-up. Not only is this bad for their personal comfort and well-being, but there’s a good chance it’s inhibiting their productivity as well.

Rather than wait for employees to speak up, organizations should be proactive and revisit their home office standards. You might be surprised by how many of your team members are struggling, and find that even small improvements can greatly improve the remote work experience for your staff.

Thanks for reading — be sure to join the conversation on LinkedIn and let me know your thoughts on this topic!

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