How to Set up Laptops for Employees Working Remotely
It is no secret that remote work has exploded in popularity over the last two years, but 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 don't practice more caution, they are leaving their organizations more susceptible to cyberattacks.
There are more than 800 million cyberattacks per year, and the number is increasing rapidly. DDoS attacks are expected to grow to around 15.4 million per year by 2023 Ransomware attacks are also on the rise and they already stole more than $590 million in 2021.
The best way to reduce the risk is to be in control of devices that you and your employees use.
Your responsibility is to ensure work laptops of your virtual teams are protected as their loss is your company's loss. In this article, we'll discuss laptop management and provide practical tips on how to set up laptops for remote employees.
Laptop Management for Remote Workers
Laptop management is essential in all cases, whether you're providing equipment for use or you're letting employees utilize their own resources.
Since employees will be using the device to access company information which can sometimes include confidential information, it is imperative for employees to take effective laptop management seriously.
Below is a step by step instructions for setting up a secure company laptop:
Step by Step Instructions for Setting Up a Secure Company Laptop
It is important to keep laptop instructions in mind when creating an employee laptop policy.
- 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.
- Add the device to your inventory tracking system. Include the serial number, name, issuance date, user name, and condition at the time of issuance. You can use management tools, spreadsheets, or use a global device distribution service like GroWrk with a platform that provides easy inventory management.
- Protect the computer by disabling local administrators so your employees cannot install unwanted tools onto the device that can likely leave the computer susceptible to cyberattacks. This also ensures the company laptop is only used for work-related tasks.
- Set up folders that sync, so that remote workers have no trouble accessing company information and storing files.
- 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.
- Install a reliable remote desktop software so that your team can solve issues remotely. Most remote desktop programs offer software licensing that allows companies to install these on other devices.
- It is important to make decisions early on how updates will be made. Running an old OS or system can be risky and can also cause data loss. You will probably need to schedule remote sessions to update the system manually. Alternatively, a WSUS server can also be used to ensure the system gets updated without manual intervention.
- For added security, ensure to add a password screensaver 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.
- Have a backup policy so that you don't end up losing important files. It's easy for Mac users due to the Time Machine feature that allows users to create local backups. On Windows, however, you may need third-party tools since the backup utility feature that comes with the OS is not very reliable. Alternatively, you can also look into backup settings for cloud service providers such as Google Drive and Dropbox. Although a lot of companies have their own backup policies, all data backup should be encrypted in the case it is stolen or compromised.
- Choose an antivirus. A good antivirus should be able to detect and remove malware, spyware, etc. You should also choose a program that updates automatically and works seamlessly without any issues.
- HDD should be encrypted so that hackers cannot get access to your content. Most OSs come with built-in encryption, such as BitLocker for Windows. You can, however, use third-party tools as well.
- It is always a good idea to go the extra mile to protect your privacy by adding a privacy screen. 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.
- Add a webcam cover to eliminate the risk of someone invading your worker's privacy. Hackers are often known to 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.
- 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. It can be of help in monitoring the device. Moreover, it can help the company find the device if it ever gets stolen or lost. However, a lot of persons 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 opinion.
- Double security authorization, also known as 2-factor authorization, should be enabled on all your programs 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.
Remember that Secure Remote Workers Protect the Company
Your business can only be protected when your employees are protected. Companies often invest heavily to protect the premises and secure their LAN servers, but very few spend on protecting remote workers.
It shouldn't matter where your workers are physically located, as your business can be at risk if their laptops are not secure.
Although Laptop management is important for both in-house and remote workers, in addition to preparing a remote work laptop policy, employers should consider providing training for their remote workers on how to maintain privacy.
They should know how to use a laptop for remote work and what to do in case things go wrong. For example, they should know how to identify risky WiFi networks and what to do if they ever identify a virus.
Other things that can put laptops at risk are old computers, working with a VPN, and connecting to unsecured networks.
Establishing 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 using a work laptop for personal use, installing third-party tools, connecting hardware such as a USB drive, and carrying the laptop around for work or personal use.
Understanding the Laptops in Your Inventory Using the GroWrk Dashboard
The more employees you have, and the further apart they are, the harder it will be to manage your laptop inventory. With GroWrk, you can see the status and location of all the devices in your inventory from a single dashboard.
We offer everything from purchases to deliveries, maintenance, pickups, storage, software, and security. Moreover, there is 24/7 helpdesk support, and each laptop comes installed with remote access software like Apple Business management.
With their laptop management software, you are able to set up your IT infrastructure all through one single service. It will make it easier to control your devices and know when a device needs an update or maintenance.
With our system, you will not have to worry about how to maintain security when employees work remotely.
How to Set up Remote Access
Remote access refers to the ability to access a computer or network that isn't in your physical location. With remote access, employees can access files stored on a different computer. It gives employers access to other devices.
Remote workers use this feature to get access to files that aren't stored in the cloud. It can also be used to solve issues. Your IT department can use remote access to install or remove software on a different computer and troubleshoot issues.
It works by creating a virtual environment between the remote computer and the user. Both macOS and Windows come with built-in remote access tools.
- You can set up remote login on a Mac by opening the Apple menu, clicking on System Preferences, choosing Sharing, and selecting Remote Login.
- You can decide who can log in remotely and what they can do here. For example, selecting the "Allow full disk access for remote users" checkbox will allow full access. For security purposes, only selected users should be given full access.
- You can access computers remotely by going to System Preferences, Sharing, and selecting Remote Login. Choose your target computer and enter the required information.
- On windows, you will need Windows 10 Pro to use this feature. You can access this feature by clicking on the start
- Click on Settings, click on System, click on Remote Desktop, and choose Enable Remote Desktop to activate this feature.
- You can connect by opening the Remote Desktop Connection feature from the search bar on the taskbar.
- You will need the device's IP address that you wish to connect to, and once connected, you will be asked to enter your login details.
Where to find a service to set up computer equipment for other employees
Instead of purchasing individual laptops from different suppliers, you can use third-party tools to create a remote working setup for each individual remote employee.
By using our service you can provide remote access to laptops to your entire workforce, regardless of their location.
All you need to do is sign up, add your employees to your dashboard, add any current inventory, and place orders for their devices. We then handle the delivery and make sure their secure laptop arrives in a timely manner.
Employees can then access the work server from home, and employers can access their laptops so they can work no matter where they are.
Should any issues arise, we have 24/7 help desk support to troubleshoot any problems a remote employee may be experiencing with their company device.
The remote access feature can be used to set up computer equipment for employees working remotely, and give your employee remote access to stored files.
When a remote employee leaves or their contract ends, GroWrk will send one of our global partners to come and pick up the device and have it stored in one of their warehouses.
They will conduct any necessary maintenance, and when it is ready to be sent to a new employee, you will receive a notification in your dashboard.
Can companies track your work laptop? Legally, yes, they can, especially if you are using a company-provided computer.
Businesses have to track devices to know their performance, ensure employees are working as expected, and that the device is safe and well-maintained.
The remote access feature, however, isn't used for this purpose. Companies mainly use it to set up laptops, including employee-owned devices, ensure there are no technical issues, and that files can be accessed whenever needed.
Setting Up Laptop 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 the work computer for personal tasks?
Although this largely depends on the companies, remote work policy, employees are not allowed to 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 in place 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.
Also, some companies offer this as perks to their employees, so research state laws where you live and make the right decision for yourself.
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 for how to set up laptops for employees working remotely.
Grow remote with GroWrk. We provide and manage laptops, devices, other equipment and services to remote teams in over 150 countries.