A good employer will always have your back. Quite literally. With work from home (WFH) here to stay, and several employees complaining of back pain due to makeshift chairs and desks at home, some corporates have begun providing a ‘home office’ allowance to make remote work comfortable.

Technology giant Google, online travel aggregator Ixigo, CRM major Salesforce, payments solution company Razorpay, IT firm Verizon India and SaaS unicorn Freshworks are among a slew of companies offering allowances to their employees to purchase ergonomic chairs, furniture and other accessories. It may well be a preventive step in time, going by furniture brand Godrej Interio’s survey of 1,500 employees from a cross spectrum of companies.

Forty one per cent of the respondents complained of back ache and neck pain after long hours of WFH.

Perking up

Verizon India’s Director Human Resources Gopinath P admits that the health and well-being of the company’s nearly 6,000 employees prompted the new perks.

“We have rolled out a special ‘work-from-home allowance’, a one-time pay for all our employees, to equip and empower them with all the resources that would be required to create an office set-up in their home environment,” he said. One of the earliest to offer ‘home office’ allowance, Freshworks has provided ₹18,000 ($250) to each of its 3,100 employees spread across 13 different global locations.

“Once we realised that the WFH is here to stay for longer, we wanted to enable our employees to create their own “Happy Work Environment” at home,” says Suman Gopalan, CHRO, Freshworks.

Some companies are also helping employees buy furniture. Bayer Group conducted surveys to understand the WFH needs of its employees.

“Based on the survey results, we provided employees with options to purchase office equipment like headphones, keyboard, mouse, laptop stand and lumbar support through our internal procurement portal,” says KS Harish, Country Group HR Head - South Asia at Bayer Group. The company has also shipped some of the office desk monitors and chairs to the homes of our colleagues.

Rising demand

Office furniture companies have quickly pivoted to meet the demand for ‘home office’ range of products. Godrej Interio, Steelcase, Humanscale are all targeting this segment.

“We have seen almost five times our normal sales during this period in the last few months for home office solutions,” says Sameer Joshi, Associate Vice-President, Marketing (B2B), Godrej Interio. He adds, “We also saw searches for home care furniture in our website jump by 140 per cent.”

“You can’t keep working 8-10 hours at a stretch from a piece of furniture which is not designed to support that sort of work. The realisation about this is very heavy and that’s why we see increasing demand for our work from home modules,” adds Joshi.

As for employers, after this posture perfect move aimed at worker well-being, productivity-boosting perks such as picking up utility bills are on the way.