How to issue devices to remote employees (the right way)
Last updated April 7, 2023
If your company has remote employees, are you issuing devices the right way?
Remote employment is different from traditional, on-premises employment. Your device-issuance practices must be different too.
Traditional vs remote devices
Traditionally, company-owned devices were kept in the office. Managers and co-workers would generally have an idea how a device was being used and maintained. It would be stored security in the office overnight. With remote employment, devices live completely different lives and are more likely to sustain:
- Physical damage. Statistically, electronic devices are much safer on an office desk than a living room couch or an outdoor patio table.
- Software damage. Employees are far more likely to install software they shouldn't when nobody can watch them use their device.
- Theft. It is much easier to secure one office building than dozens of homes.
Remote device endgame
Generally, there is only one scenario for on-premises employees: they simply leave their devices behind when they are terminated. It's not so simple with remote employees. There are more scenarios to consider, because remote employees could be expected to:
- Ship the device back to the company.
- Buy the device from the company at market or below-market price.
- Keep the device as a free perk.
Not only must your company policy accommodate at least one of these scenarios, it must ensure data security. Companies usually insiste every device is wiped of all confidential data and sensitive credentials like passwords.
The right way to issue devices to remote employees
There are some best practices when it comes to issuing devices to remote employees. Be sure you're following these steps:
- Establish a device policy: The first step is to establish a policy for device issuance and usage. This policy should be made available to all employees and should include information on how to care for the device, acceptable use policies, and consequences for misuse or failure to return the device.
- Obtain an agreement: Before receiving a device, every employee should be required to sign a legally-binding agreement acknowledging their responsibility for the device and their agreement to return/buy/wipe it upon termination of their employment.
- Record device details: It's important to keep track of the details of the device issued to each employee. This includes the make and model, serial number, and any other identifying information. This information should be kept in a centralized location that can be easily accessed by HR or IT personnel.
- Set up remote monitoring: Consider setting up remote monitoring software on the device. This software can track the location of the device and can also provide information on how the device is being used. This can help to ensure that the device is being used appropriately and can also assist in locating the device if it goes missing.
- Establish a termination procedure: The device policy must include the procedure for returning the device. This can include instructions on how to wipe the device of any personal data, how to package the device for shipping, and where to send the device once it has been returned.
- Follow Up: It's important to follow up with employees who have left the company to ensure they have returned their devices. This can be done through phone calls, emails, or even sending a letter via certified mail. You may even need to involve third parties like collection agencies. You can use a service like ReReady to send reminders automatically.
Remote work is here to stay. By following these steps, you can help ensure remote employees return their devices when their employment ends. Having a clear policy in place and obtaining an agreement with each employee, you can help ensure employees are held accountable and company property is returned.
Disclaimer: We are not your attorney, and this post contains no legal advice or guarantees of any kind. This post simply contains ideas you may wish to share with your attorney.