Modern technology has made mobile work an option no matter where you go. Gone are the days when people would have to carry 15-inch laptops everywhere to work on the go; today, you can be just as productive on a tablet or smartphone. Employees are increasingly requesting the option to work remotely or telecommute part-time; freelancers and entrepreneurs are relishing the digital nomad lifestyle.
With so many people doing work outside of the traditional office space, many companies are also finding it necessary to invest in mobile devices for their workers. After all, remote work makes plenty of sense for employers, too; they get to cut costs on expensive commercial space and energy consumption. But what should an organization do if these company-issued devices get lost or stolen?
Flesh out policy details
Companies that have only recently begun to embrace remote working arrangements may find that handling the loss of a company device isn’t thoroughly covered in the policy guidelines. Of course, fleshing out the rules won’t be of much help if an employee has already just lost a laptop. But preparation will make future incidents that much easier to handle.
Perhaps the first concern you’d think of – and undoubtedly foremost on the employee’s mind – will be a liability; who’s going to cover the financial cost of a lost device? Depending on the local law, a company may be able to deduct some amount from the employee’s wages or have it covered by insurance. Such issues can be handled in depth by the HR team. Meanwhile, IT personnel should be able to install device management tools that can use the GPS to facilitate the location of a missing or stolen device; after all, if the option to retrieve it is still on the table, that could wind up being the best way to salvage the situation.
Take steps to secure data
For most businesses, the real problem when a device gets lost is the matter of data. Workers may have files on their devices that are vital for productivity; when was the last time that data was backed up? A lot of employees also have routine access to sensitive company or client data – whether stored on the local hard drive or accessible on shared company network resources through logins that may have been saved by the user. Without proper security measures, a misplaced device leaves the door open for any third party to access this information. Backup solutions such as text message archiving and cloud storage are essential for any company that extends its trust – and issues such important devices – to employees working outside the office.
Get employees on board
Cybersecurity measures and best practices, such as setting a strong password, are a must within office premises, and even more so when your employees are allowed to take their work wherever they go. The need for security training should cover special situations, such as the risk of connecting to public WiFi networks, or installing and launching third-party apps on a company device. By bringing employees on board and teaching them to care for the provided device, they will be more inclined to treat it as personal property, reducing the risk of loss.
Prevention is better than cure, and by preparing policies, devices, and employees for the potential scenario of a lost device, any organization will benefit from better handling and risk management.