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How to Ask Your Company to Expense your New Home Office Set Up

We've helped countless companies set up WFH stipend programs for their remote workers. Here are our top considerations to keep in mind when asking your own company for the WFH setup your body deserves.



If you work a desk job, you’re already familiar with what happened right after the arrival of Covid-19—office buildings closed down, and a mass exodus of workers from those fluorescent edifices took place as businesses tried to slow the spread. Office workers expected they would be working from home as long as they needed to in order to “ride out the storm” of an unprecedented pandemic. At first, most were relieved to get some respite from the office lifestyle: commute times, office etiquette, and the lack of natural light were hardly missed. But then, when three weeks grew into a couple months, and when a couple of months ballooned into an indefinite expanse of time, office workers—now home-office workers—were faced with a new, unanticipated array of adversities that came with working from home. Paying for AC and heating in a space that would have otherwise been vacant during the workday, for instance, has burned a hole in many employees’ pockets over the course of the past year, and countless workers have quickly discovered that making an office out of their couch or kitchen table can cause a great deal of physical and psychological duress.
 
While a lot of companies have been struggling to get by as a result of the pandemic, many are also saving a great deal of money by pivoting to a work model that heavily relies on remote workers. A number of studies indicate that workers equipped with the right furniture are consistently happier, healthier, and more productive—so one would think that if a company has extra capital as a result of their reduced office expenses, it would certainly be in their best interest to help employees furnish their home offices. If it’s safe to assume that your boss would love for their employees to be 45% more productive through the workweek (we sure hope so!), then they should have no problem helping you pay for a standing desk or an ergonomic office chair.
 
Asking for financial assistance on those increased electric bills may be a bit of a stretch, but requesting financial assistance from your boss for home office furniture doesn’t have to feel like wishful thinking. Office workers throughout the country have managed to strike reasonable deals with their employers that help them acclimate to this new normal, which, for many of us, will persist even past the end of the pandemic.
 
Here are some quick tips and tricks on how to ask your boss to shell out a decent stipend for your home office.
 

Who should I approach?

 
If your company has a robust Human Resources department, we recommend reaching out to them first before speaking directly with your boss. Optimizing working conditions in order to maximize productivity has always been HR’s raison d’etre, so this topic should seem right up their alley when presented tactfully. Instead of reaching out to them over e-mail with a request for financial assistance, though, it’s usually best to approach HR with a formal request for a general update or checkup. This way, you’ll be able to place your request in the broader context of your long-term future with the company.
 

How should I put it?

 
In your meeting with HR, an explanation of your long-term work goals will give you a valuable runway for expounding on how the company can help you be more productive. As you talk about what you’ve achieved over the course of the past year, make sure you acknowledge how the change in work environment has detrimentally impacted your output: back pain and inability to focus for long periods are just two common impacts that come from having the wrong furniture. Once you’ve established the problem, talk about the research you’ve done into the benefits of ergonomic office furniture, and how you’ve discovered that “35% of employers are currently offering a work-from- home stipend” (according to US Small Businesses Study by Quester) to help their employees maximize their productivity as they continue working from home. Let them know you’re hoping to acquire new furniture for your home office so that you can reach your long-term goals, but that you can’t afford to do any of this without the company’s financial support.
 

How much should I ask for?

 
Any experienced negotiator will tell you that you should always avoid playing your hand until your counterpart has already shown theirs—it would be a shame, for instance, if you asked for a $500 lump-sum payment, when your company was in fact able and willing to provide a $1,000 stipend as long as you continue working from home. So before providing a number of any kind, make sure you ask the HR representative or your boss what they are able to offer you. If their offer is less than what you were hoping for, make sure you have a clearly outlined budget that explains exactly what you need and how much it costs. A thorough justification for each budget item and how it will raise your productivity will go a long way towards letting your boss or HR representative know that you’ve done plenty of research into the topic. Once you’ve explained the necessity of each of your requests, you can add up the budget items to a lump sum. We have found that anything up to $1,500 is within reason—at Branch, an ergonomic office chair and standing desk bundle goes for $1,095, and then the extra $405 dollars can go towards another useful item like a new computer monitor, noise-canceling headphones, or storage accessories.
 

What products should I prioritize?

 
This really depends on your current work-from-home set-up. Both ergonomic chairs and standing desks have exhibited a great deal of physical and psychological benefits for the average office worker, and both come highly recommended by certified ergonomists. If your boss is only willing to contribute so much, and you already have a desk that allows you to sit in a fully upright position, then you might choose to get an ergonomic chair before looking into a standing desk to replace your old desk. If, on the other hand, you have a chair on which you can sit comfortably while situating all of your joints at right angles, but you’re spending all of your work hours at the kitchen table, then it might behoove you to prioritize a standing desk, which will do wonders for your concentration through the workday.
 

Where should I look?

 
When you present specific price quotes to your company, you’ll want to let them know that you’ve found the best available products at the lowest possible price. By minimizing delivery fees and dealer markups, Branch has pioneered a new approach to office furniture that addresses the concerns of the everyday office worker while reducing prices by up to 50%. If you present Branch’s offerings as potential solutions, you’ll further demonstrate that you’re serious not only about your own well-being, but the company’s as well.
 

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