6 Ways to Stop the Loss of IT Assets to Remote Workers
Some remote workers work full-time outside of company walls. Others telecommute when traveling on business or when stuck at home because of illness or adverse weather. Further, distributed teams, comprised of remote workers working together, is becoming the norm, according to WeWork. Unfortunately, a lot of the employer’s IT assets get permanently lost to remote workers who have moved on to a new role or team, up to a higher job position, or out of the company.
“As businesses become increasingly digitally driven, their number of IT assets grows, which makes keeping track of hardware and software difficult — especially with the rise in remote workers who are spread out across the globe,” said Matt Cox, senior director, technical operations, ITSM at SolarWinds.
For whatever reasons, 70% of people globally work remotely at least once a week, according to a study by IWG. Companies routinely provide IT and telecom assets to remote workers to facilitate the work and control security measures. Employers also replace hardware and software in regularly scheduled upgrade cycles, or to replace damaged or lost items. This can lead to a pileup of IT assets in remote workers’ possession where IT can easily forget they exist once they are no longer supported or tallied as “in service.”
“If an employee never comes into the office, it’s harder to ensure their software maintains the correct licensing. When they leave the company, making sure they return their equipment can be a daunting task. But equipping workers with the right tech tools is important to attracting and retaining top talent and keeping them productive, so distributing IT assets is unavoidable,” Cox added.
Security providers are often called upon to aid with managing and maintaining these assets. That work typically starts with an IT audit, but that’s only part of the action that should be taken. We consulted with several professionals to see what they recommend be added to a remote asset-management plan. Here are the tips they offered.
1. Remember that asset retrieval has multiple components and plan accordingly. “These include: implementing equipment tracking software; documenting equipment assigned to employees; requiring employees to accept and sign an equipment agreement that includes a list of received equipment that must be returned upon termination; and informing employees that the cost of any equipment that is not returned by a given date will be deducted from their final paycheck,” said Omer Kaan Aslim, president of Desired Outcomes. “Organizations should inform terminated employees that shipping costs associated with equipment returns will be reimbursed.”
2. Consider adding VDI to your BYOD plan. “Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) allows all of the user data to be securely stored and controlled in corporate environments, offering the end user a workstation like an experience along with corporate resources anywhere in the world,” explained Ian McClarty, president & CEO of PhoenixNAP Global IT Services.
“Companies are moving toward a BYOD mindset where the employee is able to provide their own devices – laptops, cell phones, and tablets – on top of VDI technologies. Employees are usually given a yearly stipend to source their own equipment and maintenance plans,” McClarty added. “The burden of making sure the equipment is operational is on the employee but the tradeoff is choice and being able to upgrade equipment past the standard if the employee wants to pay the delta. In this model equipment is not returned, if there is an early parting of ways, a prorated stipend is taken from the last paycheck.”
3. Make a plan to proactively manage data and app access. “Employees can access business apps hosted in the cloud from any device, on or off of the corporate network. IT departments can minimize post-termination access by …