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Company's equipment recovery guide after remote employee termination

Employee terminations can be stressful and expensive. Not only must companies terminate employment contracts due to financial hardship or restructuring, but a new concern emerges: employee equipment –like their laptop or other hardware– retrievals.

Of course, job termination affects individuals, but it also impacts the company's bottom line. According to the Economic Research Institute, "When you dismiss an employee, typically it will cost between 50% and 60% of that person’s annual salary to refill the position." 

Simply put, it is difficult to terminate the services of an employee and it is even more difficult to retrieve their equipment when they leave.

Providing equipment –like a laptop and other hardware– is important when building remote teams; but it ultimately means that remote employees are in possession of valuable company assets. So what happens when they exit the company? How do you retrieve this equipment? 

Companies need to implement policies that will help secure the devices and their data during the retrieval process. In this post we will discuss what to consider when implementing a security plan to retrieve company equipment and how to retrieve all company equipment from terminated employees.

Implementing a security plan to retrieve company equipment

In many remote companies, the level of productivity –and ultimately success– depends on the IT equipment that employees use. That's why having employees sign contracts and track computer usage with software should be part of your actionable security plan to protect company-owned equipment.

Policies might not solve all security problems, but they help in defining the processes your company should adopt to develop its procedures. A security policy defines clear, comprehensive rules and practices that regulate access to a company's assets and data.

A good security policy protects not only the equipment but the company as a whole. It also serves as a prominent statement to the outside world about your company’s commitment to security.

Companies can use this policy to define which assets need protection and any potential risks. This critical function determines the necessary countermeasures, which are usually categorized as property damage and retrieval of equipment.  In this article, we will focus on equipment retrieval.

A company’s risk assessment informs policy-makers of the specific security requirements. Regardless of those findings, the following questions should be addressed clearly and concisely in any security policy:

  • What is the reason for the policy?
  • Whose authority sustains the policy?
  • Under what laws or regulations, if any, is the policy based?
  • Who will enforce the policy?
  • How will the policy be enforced?
  • Whom does the policy affect?
  • What assets must be protected?
  • What are users actually required to do?
  • How should security breaches and violations be reported?
  • When does the policy go into effect and when will it expire?
remote employee returning equipment

Additionally, the process should identify the probability that opposition may occur and the impact it will have on the company if a loss were to happen. There are steps that are important in determining how best to protect the company’s equipment and they must be performed periodically. This includes:

1. The right equipment retrieval plan should consider the various requirements

Retrieving and, especially, delivering equipment from GPS trackers includes more than the device software. The hardware, network, and business operations of your operation are all important.

“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," according to Omer Kaan Aslim, president of Desired Outcomes.

He also mentions that companies need to inform "employees that the cost of any equipment that is not returned by a given date will be deducted from their final paycheck. Organizations should inform terminated employees that shipping costs associated with equipment returns will be reimbursed (if applicable).”

2. Develop a proactive plan for managing data and app access

The stakes are high when it comes to data security. All organizations face the threat of data breaches, malware, and spyware because employees can usually access all company information over the cloud.

As Heather Paunet, vice president of product management at Untangle, explains: “Employees can access business apps hosted in the cloud from any device, on or off of the corporate network."

She adds that "IT departments can minimize post-termination access by limiting how employees interact with the software while employed. Defining access levels in the beginning, will make it easier to remove access permissions when an employee leaves the company."

In addition to protecting sensitive information, large and small businesses need maximum productivity from their mobile devices. We explained how this can be achieved in our blog on how to choose the right MDM software.

3. Trust but verify

While having access to all kinds of company data is essential for many remote workers, there are instances where this could become a liability. Whether an employee mistakenly shares sensitive data or purposefully leaks private information, company materials are potentially at risk. 

To prevent data leaks and other unfortunate situations when retrieving equipment, companies must enforce processes to ensure the trustworthiness of employees and contracted parties with access to sensitive information.

Such measures can be easily included from the start of employment. During the onboarding process, when employees sign the equipment agreement, detail how to handle the data inside the devices and the possible legal consequences if they fail to comply with the deal.

4. Consolidate and automate

Business and Information Technology (IT) are tightly-coupled components of an organization. The modern enterprise requires a balance of these two areas to be successful. Traditionally, the lines between technology and the business have been blurred because they were managed separately.

Matt Cox, senior director, technical operations, ITSM at Solarwind, suggests that consolidating all IT equipment under one system provides a visual of the life cycle of the technology infrastructure, making it easier to track hardware devices regardless of location.

Automating risk detection can help monitor if the assigned equipment is in use and active. This helps cut down on remote workers using their personal devices to access company data.

company equipment use and return policy agreement template

5. Equipment management and IT service management should be integrated.

End-to-end IT equipment management and service management integration require a foundational set of capabilities and adherence to industry standards. Integrating service management and equipment management is vital, especially within large organizations.

“The Center for Internet Security (CIS) lists inventory and control of hardware and software equipment as the top two recommended basic controls. Automated, centralized IT equipment management can fulfill these recommendations," as explained by Ian Aitchison, senior product director, ITSM at Ivanti.

"By integrating equipment management and service management," he adds, "IT has the foundation it needs to manage the entire life cycle of equipment, from onboarding through reclamation.” 

Managing the retrieval of equipment with confidentiality

Managing the retrieval of company equipment from terminated employees in a way that respects their confidentiality is important. It helps ensure that your company's proprietary information remains secure.

While it can be difficult to strike the right balance between respect for privacy and the need to prevent a former employee from using your confidential information, there are clear steps that you can take to protect your company's interests while also treating former employees fairly.

First, develop a thorough system for tracking the equipment used by each employee throughout their tenure at your company. Keep detailed records of the devices used by current and former employees and include identifying information like serial numbers or model numbers. Here's an example of an employee return form.

Next, develop a well-structured policy for clearing data from devices when they are being returned to the company. This policy should take into account federal and state laws regarding personal data left on corporate devices. During this process, it's vital to document all information saved on these items as evidence that the proper protocols were followed.

Most times, it is easier to use a third party to help you secure company's equipment from former remote employees. The Growrk platform ensures that former employees or contractors turn over all company-owned equipment, including laptops and other assigned accessories in good condition. 

agreement to return and care for company equipment

We take responsibility for retrieving equipment from remote employees during their exit from the company. With our help, you can rest assured that offboarding an employee and retrieving your company’s equipment will be hassle-free.

Final thoughts

By following these steps, your company can recover all of its equipment from your remote employee when they leave the company. You can prevent potentially damaging situations from occurring and save yourself thousands in hard costs and lost productivity as well.

At GroWrk, we make the equipment retrieval process easy, confidential, and secure so you can focus on more important things, like creating value for your organization. Book a demo today to get started. 

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