Businesses changed directions rapidly due to the pandemic in 2020. Many people made quick adjustments that may not have been the best for long term success.  This is understandable, as business owners needed to act fast when governmental regulations changed.  Businesses that were able to move to remote work were told they need to. Others were shut down altogether.  It was chaotic and information was changing frequently as more and more data came in.  A common strategy during this tumultuous time was to leave company equipment at the office and rely on employees to use personal equipment while remote.  Some of this was driven from not wanting to move desktop computers back and forth. Some had work systems that were unable to handle “virtual” style meetings and applications. Some encouraged the use of personal equipment because work environments were constantly changing due to the government regulations. 

Although the variability of the time helped to justify the strategy, it’s well past due to stop that practice and get users back under the umbrella of corporate provided equipment.  Here’s why this needs to be done sooner rather than later.

  1. Security

    Generally, employee-owned devices are not controlled by corporate IT departments. This means they do not have the same anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-malware, backup, or other necessary security software.  This creates a very high level of business risk for organizations as the potential for exploitation is much higher.  If a hacker is able to gain access to an unsecure device (which is not difficult to do), they would potentially have access to company data that is stored there. 

  2. Support Costs

    The end goal of supporting your users should always be to try and eliminate ALL avoidable support tickets.  When you or your employees need IT help, they generally cannot perform some part of their work.  This is not good for anyone. A large portion of creating that support outcome is standardization of policy, process, equipment, and software.  When you start changing the environment by introducing new software, hardware, and different processes, your support costs increase.  It is inevitable and escalates avoidable down time for your employees.  

  3. Productivity

    Along with the additional down time from support issues noted above, productivity also takes a hit. This is common when relying on employees to use personal equipment while remote.  This is for a number of reasons, which include:  

  • Outdated equipment 
  • Single monitors (double monitors are proven to increase productivity) 
  • Different software configurations 
  • Outdated versions of applications 
  • Allocated usable time (see #4) 

In addition to these, there are a dozen other variables that ultimately reduce your employees capacity to complete normal tasks in the expected amount of time.   

4. Sharing of Environment

A sometimes unavoidable issue that arises when employees use personal equipment while remote is the sharing of that equipment. This creates more risk than most of the other items combined.  The main reason being that sharing a device expands security vulnerabilities dramatically. In a work environment, access to websites and applications is somewhat controlled.  A pattern of normal allows IT departments to put up appropriate barriers.  When normal use changes, especially when you introduce non-business activities, the barriers are much harder to build.  Shared computers are only as safe as the lowest common denominator allows.  If anyone in the household clicks a malicious link or visits an infected site, the computer can be comprised, and all users exploited. This can lead to the hacker gaining access to any other system your employee accesses, including yours or your customers.  

5. Talent Management

A recent study highlighted that 50% of individuals working remotely would not be interested in going back to a “traditional” office-based job. In the same study, respondents admitted the flexibility to work anywhere and anytime was a main driver in their happiness. Working remotely, in some form or fashion, is here to stay. New employees, and soon even existing employees, will expect to be provided the right tools to perform their work. By requiring your employees to provide their own personal equipment while remote, you are risking losing them to your competition. Mobile first strategies are becoming common place in business. Because if this, mobile environments are being provided to employees.  If you are the only one not providing a mobile environment, you will struggle with attracting and retaining the right talent.  

Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve had a good amount of time to adjust to remote work, it’s time to rethink some of the substandard processes and adjustments that were put in place back in March of 2020. The companies who emerge from this pandemic stronger than they were before will be those who have taken the steps to optimize remote work environments. We’ve encountered a number of companies who allow their employees to use personal equipment while remote to access sensitive business data. We hope we’ve made clear why that poses a risk to your business, your employees, and your clients. It may require a bit of investment but providing mobile equipment for your employees could potentially decrease expenses in the long run and actually help to grow your business.