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How to set up laptops for employees working remotely

It is no secret that remote work has exploded in popularity over the last few years; unfortunately, so has cybercrime. If leaders don't know how to set up laptops for employees working remotely and how to manage a distributed team, or remote workers are not careful, they are leaving their organizations vulnerable to cyberattacks. 

According to Norton, there are over 2,200 cyberattacks per day, equating to 800,000 people being hacked yearly. Additionally, DDoS attacks will grow to around $10.5 trillion annually by 2025.

The best way to reduce risk is to be in control of the devices that you and your employees use.

In this article, we'll discuss laptop management and provide practical tips on how to set up laptops for remote employees. If you are looking for a laptop management service for your remote team, take a look at GroWrk's pricing.



Should you set up laptops for employees manually or remotely?

Whether you provide the equipment or allow employees to use their own resources, your responsibility is to protect work laptops for virtual teams, as your company's loss is their loss. As any IT professional knows, you can pre-configure laptops from an office and then ship them out to employees or have them come and pick them up.

This, however, takes much more time to do, and you also have to worry about shipping fees and where to store the devices. As more companies become distributed, the costs of maintaining an office space just for storage are no longer economical. But you don't want IT managers storing laptops in their apartments either.

The more modern version involves purchasing laptops from an IT asset management platform, configuring and securing them remotely using MDM software, and deploying them with zero-touch.

This software contains details such as laptop specifications, ownership, and usage history, which can streamline maintenance, facilitate quick replacements, and contribute to overall asset accountability within the remote work environment.

how to set up laptops for employees


How to set up laptops for employees remotely

Since employees will be using those devices to access company information—which can sometimes include confidential information—it is imperative for you to create a list of what you need to prepare to set up your employees' laptops.

Below is a set of step-by-step instructions for setting up laptops remotely:

set up computers for employees

1. Choose the right operating systems and laptop models

Selecting suitable operating systems and laptop models is crucial for enhancing productivity and security across your distributed workforce. The choice typically revolves around Windows or macOS:

  • Windows: Known for its flexibility, Windows supports a wide array of business tools and offers extensive customization to meet diverse operational and security needs.
  • macOS: Favored for its robust security and intuitive interface, macOS is ideal for environments prioritizing data protection and seamless integration with other Apple products.

When choosing laptop models, focus on performance, reliability, and durability. Opt for models with proven longevity and strong support services to ensure they can handle demanding work conditions effectively.

2. Upload your current inventory to a laptop management software

Once you've decided on what equipment your employees will be using, upload all your inventory into a laptop management software. This will help you stay organized and give you visibility over all your company's IT assets. 

First, you will have to add the device to the company domain by extending local ID admin features to the laptop and adding the tools and apps remote employees need to do their jobs.

To add the device to your laptop management software, include the serial number, name, issuance date, user name, and condition at the time of issuance. You can use management tools, spreadsheets, or a global device distribution service like GroWrk with a platform that provides easy laptop inventory management.

With a platform like GroWrk, you'll be able to leverage other smart features like real-time updates on product status, automated reporting, notifications for equipment refresh, or one-click device retrievals.

If you don't have an IT asset management platform, you can protect the computer by disabling local administrators so your employees cannot install unwanted tools, which can likely leave the computer susceptible to cyberattacks. This also ensures the company laptop is only used for work-related tasks.

set up computer equipment for other employees

3. Create a profile for each employee

When setting up laptops for new employees, creating individual profiles is a crucial step. These profiles tailor the computing environment to the specific needs of each employee, ensuring they have the right tools and permissions to perform their work tasks efficiently.

Start by assigning unique usernames and robust passwords, and consider adding biometric options like fingerprint login for enhanced security. This setup restricts access to sensitive information and aligns with company policies on data protection. Each profile should also designate the appropriate level of administrative rights—full access should only be granted to those in roles that require it, minimizing the risk of unauthorized changes to the system.

Furthermore, ensure these profiles are integrated with your central IT asset management system to allow for seamless updates and maintenance across all devices. This integration is vital for the ongoing management of laptop setups and ensures that all devices are optimized for performance and security, safeguarding your business against potential cybersecurity threats.

4. Remotely install any updates that the laptops need

Ensuring that all laptops have the latest updates is a critical component of secure laptop setups, especially when learning how to set up laptops for employees who may be distributed across various locations. Regular updates help prevent data breaches by patching security vulnerabilities and enhancing the overall security framework of your devices.

Initiate this process by setting up an automated update system that remotely installs necessary software patches and system updates. This automation ensures that all laptops receive the updates they need without manual intervention, keeping the systems secure and operational without disrupting the employees' workflow. It is especially important to update operating systems, security software, and any applications that handle sensitive information.

Lastly, implement a protocol for reviewing and approving updates before they are deployed. This step is crucial to ensure that the updates do not interfere with existing company software and policies. By maintaining a proactive approach to updates, you protect your business from the vulnerabilities that outdated software can introduce, thus safeguarding your data and that of your clients.

5. Install any software that employees may need

Properly setting up computer equipment for new employees includes installing all the necessary software that enables them to perform their job duties effectively. This step is vital not only for the functionality of the laptop setup but also for safeguarding crucial business data handled by these applications.

Begin the process by identifying the standard software suite required for each role within your organization. This might include productivity tools, specialized programs specific to your industry, security software, and communication platforms. For each new laptop setup, ensure that this software is installed and properly configured. Consider creating a local account that has the necessary permissions to install and manage these applications, which will streamline the process for future updates or changes.

It’s also important to provide new employees with training on how to use these applications effectively. Training should cover not only the basic functionality but also best practices for securing their devices and handling sensitive information. By equipping your employees with the knowledge and tools they need from the start, you enhance their ability to contribute productively and securely to your organization.

6. Set up security features like two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication should be enabled on all your accounts to provide an extra layer of security. Enabling this feature will prevent hackers from accessing your files even if they are able to get access to the password

Remote employers should set up a VPN to secure the system and reduce the risk of hacks. Choose a remote employee VPN that works well without affecting speed. Some VPN networks offer good protection but at a cost. You need to check multiple options before picking one that fits your remote worker needs and company size.

For added security, ensure that a password screensaver is added so that nobody else can log in to the system. It would help if you also considered using a password-protected screensaver to protect your device even when the user isn't there to keep an eye on it.

set up remote access

7. Encrypt your hard drives, back up your data, and enable a location-finding service.

HDDs should be encrypted so hackers cannot access your content. Most OSs, such as BitLocker for Windows, come with built-in encryption, but you can also use third-party tools.

Have a backup policy so you don't lose important files. Mac users have access to the Time Machine feature, which allows them to create local backups. On Windows, however, you may need third-party tools since the backup utility feature that comes with the OS is unreliable. Alternatively, you can look into backup settings for cloud service providers such as Google Drive and Dropbox. Although many companies have their own backup policies, all data backup should be encrypted in case it is stolen or compromised.

Companies should also enable a location-finding service. Doing so will allow the location manager and/or the user to know where the laptop is and help monitor the device. Moreover, it can help the company find the device if it ever gets stolen or lost. However, many people have conflicting opinions as these apps can also be used to track the PC user. Before making decisions like this, it is important to discuss with your team and hear their opinions.

8. Go the extra mile with securing your remote employees

It is always a good idea to go the extra mile to protect your privacy by adding a privacy screen to your required equipment. Believe it or not, shoulder surfing attacks are pretty common. This is important if your remote workers like to work from restaurants, parks, or other public places. Private screens limit viewing angles and ensure unauthorized people cannot view the screen.

Adding a webcam cover also eliminates the risk of someone invading your worker's privacy. Hackers often use remote administration tools to spy on others without making it obvious. The best way to reduce the risk is to use a physical cover.

For added security, ensure that a password screensaver is added so that nobody else can log in to the system. It would help if you also considered using a password-protected screensaver to protect your device even when the user isn't there to keep an eye on it.

9. Establish a company laptop policy

The importance of a company laptop policy cannot be overstated. It covers everything from how to protect your laptop inventory to how to share data

Work on a policy that benefits not just your company but the end-user as well. Remote workers should not find it too stringent.

It should answer all questions a user may have about the laptop, including how to use a work laptop for personal use, install third-party tools, connect hardware such as a USB drive, and carry the laptop around for work or personal use.

secure laptops


How to set up computer equipment for other employees using the GroWrk dashboard


laptops in your inventory

Instead of sourcing individual laptops from various suppliers, consider leveraging a platform like GroWrk to orchestrate a distributed working setup for each of your employees.

By utilizing GroWrk's comprehensive service, you can streamline the provisioning of laptops to your entire workforce, regardless of their geographical locations.

Simply register on our platform, add your employees to the dashboard, include any existing inventory, and order the necessary devices. GroWrk manages the logistics, ensuring that each securely configured laptop is delivered promptly.

Once the laptops are deployed, employees can utilize JumpCloud's zero-trust directory platform to authenticate and connect securely to your company's resources. This setup not only facilitates seamless access to necessary applications and data but also allows for robust management and oversight of all deployed devices.

Should any issues arise, our 24/7 help desk is ready to provide support and troubleshoot any challenges that your distributed employees might encounter with their company devices.

The integration of MDM software allows for efficient setup and management of computer equipment for your distributed workforce, enabling secure access to stored files and essential business applications.

Upon the conclusion of a remote employee’s tenure or contract, GroWrk coordinates with global partners to retrieve the device, which is then stored securely and maintained until it is ready to be reassigned. You will be notified through your dashboard once the laptop is prepared for its next user.

Can companies legally track your work laptop? Yes, they can, particularly if it is provided by the company. It is crucial for businesses to track devices to monitor performance, confirm employee productivity, and ensure the security and maintenance of the equipment.

However, the primary use of these capabilities is not for surveillance; instead, it focuses on setting up and maintaining laptops, including employee-owned devices, to prevent technical issues and ensure that files are accessible when needed.


Wrapping up 

Enhancing cybersecurity should be at the forefront of all companies' work policies. Setting up laptops for employees working remotely is crucial to safeguard company information. 

The above steps should guide any cybersecurity enthusiast looking to set up laptops for remote employees.

Ready to streamline your IT equipment management? Schedule a demo with GroWrk today and see how our comprehensive platform can empower your distributed teams in over 150 countries


Setting up laptops for remote employees: FAQ

Is it legal to monitor devices used by remote workers?

It's legal to monitor your staff while they work from home. Almost all types of employee surveillance are entirely legal, as there is very little data protection for employee privacy.

Although some states in the US, like Delaware and Connecticut, require employers to provide written notice 

Am I allowed to use my work computer for personal tasks?

Although this largely depends on the company's remote work policy, employees cannot use their work computers for personal tasks.

Work computers are usually connected to the company's private networks, so using your company laptop for personal tasks is not recommended. In most cases, it's smarter and safer to only use it just for business-related tasks.

Can I demand my employer to cover internet costs?

No. There are no laws for employers to cover expenses incurred while working at home. However, some state laws in the US require reimbursement for necessary job expenses such as internet costs.

Some companies also offer this as a perk to their employees, so research state laws where you live and make the right decision for yourself.

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