Guidelines on Providing Equipment for Working Remotely

Find guidance from Human Resources and other areas in handling requests for equipment and supplies from employees who are working remotely.

With many employees working at home full-time, DLCs are receiving requests for equipment, supplies, and technology in support of remote work. Because the DLC's budget must pay for these expenses, administrators should use their departmental spending guidelines when reviewing/approving purchases. For research funded areas, DLCs may not purchase equipment for remote work using grant/contract funds unless such purchases are explicitly budgeted and approved in the award agreement.

Vice President for Finance (VPF) Guidance

Certain MIT-owned equipment must be tagged by the Property Office and logged in its database, whether that equipment is on-site or remote. VPF is providing guidance regarding MIT property used off-site and offers DLCs a template email request to DLC staff and inventory form for logging all MIT-owned off-site equipment. VPF also offers guidance for department administrators and staff on purchasing work-related items that are shipped to an employee's home. See Guidance for Purchasing and Tracking Items Shipped to Employee Homes for Remote Work on the VPF website.

Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) Guidance

Working remotely from home can cause ergonomic issues if workstations are not appropriately set up. EHS has developed an Ergonomics page with many helpful materials, including a self-assessment tool and some tips that do not require the purchase of equipment. EHS also provides group training for DLCs by request. A remote home workstation ergonomic review and assessment may be requested through the Ergonomic Evaluation website.

Human Resources Guidance

  • Where MIT requires or encourages remote work, the DLC should, at its cost, provide the basic technology and technical support to do the job. See Technology, Technical Support, and Related Items below.
  • DLCs will generally provide a computer (preferably a laptop), keyboard, and mouse at the DLC's expense. In some cases, a printer and printing supplies (toner and paper) may also be a necessity.
    • These items may be equipment that the employee was using at work and has taken home, or may be new equipment purchased by MIT and shipped to the employee's home. If there is equipment in the workplace that the employee wishes to take home, they should contact their DLC about access and logistics.
  • Equipment and technical support provided by the DLC should be provided uniformly to similarly situated staff. 
  • The DLC may find it helpful to maintain a log of all MIT-owned equipment being used off-site for remote work. See Vice President for Finance (VPF) Guidance above.
    • Note that MIT-owned property is covered by Institute insurance at replacement value. This insurance has a $1,000 deductible, which the DLC must pay. 
  • MIT-owned equipment must generally be returned to MIT at the end of employment.
  • If an employee requests specific equipment or furniture as an accommodation for a disability, please consult with the Disability Services and Medical Leaves Office. The cost of any accommodation is paid by the DLC. 

Technology, Technical Support, and Related Items

The following guidelines reflect how many DLCs are responding to requests for equipment, supplies, and other assistance for remote work.

Purchase of any of these items must be approved in advance by the DLC. In general, purchases should be made directly through MIT's Buy-to-Pay (B2P) system using a purchase order, and not on a personal credit card and later reimbursed to the employee. The purchases are generally shipped directly to the employee's remote work site. However, requests to ship purchases to employees who are working outside of the U.S. will be handled on a case-by-case basis with VPF Procurement Operations.

Alternatively, some DLCs are providing a set dollar amount that employees may use for home equipment beyond basic items such as computer, keyboard, and mouse; these items may include additional equipment or office furniture. Note that if a sum of money is paid directly to the employee for these expenses, it is considered taxable income and items purchased with these funds belong to the employee.

Technology

Usually provided by DLC

  • Laptop (with MIT-licensed software, Microsoft Office, and other standard MIT software packages)
  • Keyboard and mouse
  • Cables
  • Headset (for phone and/or computer)

Provided by DLC when needed for particular role

  • Printer
  • Extra monitor
  • Docking station
  • Whiteboard
  • Noise-canceling headphones

Not paid for or reimbursed by DLC

  • Home internet connection (whether ongoing service, upgraded service, or new service)
  • Upgraded cell phone; costs of cell phone
  • Increased utility expenses
  • Purchase of an air conditioner

Office supplies

Office supplies are usually not provided by the DLC, but DLCs may choose to provide:

  • Printer supplies such as paper and cartridges
  • Paper, pens, stickies, etc.    

DLCs that provide supplies may consider a dollar allowance for supplies, or a numerical limit on number of items (such as the number of cartridges), since these items can also be used for personal reasons.  

Technical support

  • DLC and/or IS&T provides technical support for MIT-owned technology
    • MIT does not generally provide support for personally owned equipment, even if used for MIT work

Office furniture and equipment  

Generally, MIT does not provide office furniture for remote work. Exceptions made by some DLCs include office chairs, laptop stands, or standing desk converters (height-adjustable desk stands) for employees working remotely, to address ergonomic concerns. The DLC may require the employee to have a remote home workstation review and assessment with EHS before any purchase is approved. As noted, where an DLC provides a sum of money to employees to defray expenses of remote work, the employee may choose to use that sum for office furniture or equipment.