I am living in a right-handed world, if that makes a difference.
very much so! <g>
i live in a left handed world (so to speak), and there, positive Z (your negative Z) is the desired direction for "forward" for the static pose of an object model in object space. its desirable for just the reasons you intuitively suspect. IE it makes life a bit easier. So in your case, a right hand world, facing in the negative Z direction is probably the best option. I can't think of any reason why it wouldn't be. i've been doing it that way (the left hand version thereof ) since i started 3d coding, which would have been when microsoft bought rendermophics (1995) and turned reality lab into directx 1.0, which was released in 1996. i was about to license reality lab for SIMSapce when MS pulled it off the market. I was forced to write my own 3D perspective correct texture mapped poly engine from scratch, since directx 1.0 was yet to be released.