written by
Zack Calloway

At-Home Workers and Broken Tech

Remote Work Maintenance Office Network Security 3 min read
Two thirds of remote workers are using faulty tech

Does your company have any workers who work remotely some or all the time? Your at-home or remote workforce can be a powerful contributor, and many love the flexibility of ditching the commute or being able to spend lunch breaks with pets or loved ones.

Yet an increase in acceptance of remote work has led to a new round of logistical and practical concerns for business leaders like you. One that you might not think of? What happens when company tech breaks at home.

A new report reveals that as many as 67% of remote workers fail to report damaged or broken technology to their employer. It’s a little weird that this is the case, but what’s more alarming is that this can turn into a security concern for your business.

Here’s what you need to know.

67% of At-Home Employees Don’t Report Broken Tech

If you’re working in the office and your keyboard stops working, what do you do?

You request a new one.

What if the reason your keyboard stopped working is that you spilled a Diet Coke on it?

Typically, then you feel a little worse, but you still just request a new one.

But for whatever reason, at-home employees are very likely to not do this.

It does feel a little different admitting that something the company owns broke at your house, especially if the reason is something your employee doesn’t think the boss will appreciate.

Why This Could Be Problematic, Even Dangerous

Regardless of how the tech breaks down, you need your employees to report it and to get a new company-issued replacement. What happens if they don’t?

Here are a few ways that failing to report damaged tech could be problematic — and maybe even dangerous.

1. Damaged Peripherals Can Damage More Valuable Devices

First, because damage doesn’t always stay self-contained. Think about that employee with the Diet Coke-soaked keyboard. Maybe the keyboard doesn’t immediately die. It’s just a little, er, sticky.

So the employee keeps on using it. The problem is, liquid damage doesn’t always present in the same ways. A keyboard that seems like it’s still working could still short out. And if it’s plugged into the employee’s desktop, there’s risk of damage to the desktop itself.

Replacing a $29 keyboard is a nuisance. Replacing a $700 computer (not to mention any data on it that wasn’t backed up) is something more significant.

2. Damaged or Ineffective Devices Hamper Productivity

One reason people might not report damage as they should is when a device still works, at least kind of. I had a keyboard once where the period key only worked some of the time. Whenever it stopped working, I’d go copy a period from somewhere in a document, then press control+v every time I needed one.

I still got the work done. But I wasn’t nearly as productive as I should’ve been.

When employees are resorting to slow workarounds or are avoiding certain tasks altogether because their tech isn’t working properly, your company takes the hit.

3. Using Personal Replacements Is a Security Risk

Let’s look at what your employee might consider a worst-case scenario: their entire work computer appears to be dead—and it’s their fault (or their pet’s or their kid’s…).

Many at-home employees are understandably worried about repercussions. So what do they do? They start working from their personal laptop.

And that’s a serious concern.

Your company can’t control what’s on that laptop — from security software to encryption to malware. And you might not even be able to see the threats coming, because you don’t know about the device at all.

Your data, your network, and your infrastructure could all be at risk if an employee unknowingly uses a compromised device.

The Solution: Better Policies (and a Better IT Partner)

The solution here is simple: make sure your company has clear policies for how to handle damaged equipment, and make sure your team knows that you value security more than reputations. Encourage them to request replacements immediately and have clear policies in place for when, if ever, employees will be liable for costs.

A better IT partner can help, too: we can help you craft better device management and network security policies, lowering all the risks described here.

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