With a sizeable number of companies asking their employees to work from home till the end of the year, the concept of “home office” is coming into sharper focus. The accent is largely on ergonomic comfort, and to make sure that employees invest in this essential, some companies offer them an allowance.
There is an unmistakable trace of pride in her voice, as Anika Tanwar discusses a corner of her home, where she has raised an office with the ₹10,000 allowance her company extended to her.
Bobble AI, a tech start-up based in Gurugram, offered its employees the option of either renting out furniture or buying them, and Anika chose the latter option.
She bought a foldable and compact work desk along with a swivel chair that came with a backrest, armrest and height adjustment feature.
Anika wanted the the work desk to fit neatly into a corner of her bedroom, and add to room’s aesthetics.
She points out that her work table that can hold a small plant and has a diary and water bottle holder, along with the laptop. “I now feel like I have created a physical and mental space where I can work more productively,” she exults.
Some companies have either engineered a tie-up with rental furniture providers or have increased the scope of existing allowances to include WFH furniture.
Razorpay started offering a monthly remote working allowance of ₹ 1500 to every employee so that they can rent office furniture, upgrade the broadband connection, or spend on any other essential. It has also partnered with Rentlite to help its employees find furniture on rent.
Microsoft has extended its policies to enable employees to procure the right equipment, including ergonomic furniture.
Standard Chartered bank has come up with an arrangement with Featherlite where 100 ergonomic chairs had to be delivered to its employees’ homes in Chennai.
Furniture sellers underline a spurt in demand for ergonomic chairs since the lockdown began, and point out that some employers placed bulk orders to help their employees. With delivery channels opening up now, many individuals have started placing orders.
At Godrej Interio, one of the most searched products is a work chair, more specifically a motion chair. “This chair is unique as it is designed on the principle of active seating,” says Sameer Joshi, associate vice president, marketing (B2B), Godrej Interio. The seating is said to promote movement and improve posture.
Furniture makers are offering furniture adapted to a particular metier.
“For someone who would be desk-bound for long hours, we offer a desk that can hold many things. For those in creative pursuits, a desk that can be moved easily,” says Sidhant Lamba, founder, Fabrento, an online furniture renting service, which is launching a new range of desks.
Co-living spaces is another segment that is introducing changes since WFH became so widespread.
“In a majority of co-living spaces, the room would have a wardrobe and bed and not necessarily a desk. Home owners are in talks with us about incorporating a WFH set-up into their rooms,” says Lamba.
Similarly, Godrej Interio is promoting furniture solutions that are aligned with the rest of the home furniture.
“There is high demand for this range, which include interactive poufs, easy seat — a foldable chair, flip — a foldable desk, computer tables and study tables,” says Joshi.
Multifunctional modular products are also in demand. “Finding multiple uses for a space, they are ideal for smart homes and studio apartments where space is a constraint,” says Joshi.
There is also a market for services to establish elaborate home-offices.
Coworking space provider Awfis has launched [email protected] that attends to the A-to-Z of establishing a home office starting with assessing the home, enhancing physical infrastructure with smart furniture and offering technology support like broadband connection and collaboration tools. This service works on a monthly subscription model starting at ₹ 2500.