The Importance of Remote IT Asset Recovery



While there are many advantages to remote working, the natural ‘churn’ of staff presents a logistical challenge to many stakeholders within a company.

As the dust settles after the first wave of COVID-19, how people describe their profession has boiled down to a binary option: you can either work from home, or you can’t. If you can’t, your work life will carry on, and from your employer’s perspective, nothing much will change, as long as you don’t present yourself with COVID-19 symptoms.

However, if you are remote working for the foreseeable future, while your infection risk to your colleagues will be lesser, you carry other risks of concern to your HR and IT departments, and also the Chief Financial Officer.

Natural Churn

According to the recruitment company Monster, in the UK there is a natural employee turnover rate every year, though it will obviously vary depending on the industry. The highest turnover rates are in retailing, catering, call centers, construction, and the media. Whereas the lowest rates include legal, accountancy, education, and the public sector.

It’s worth noting that the average natural turnover rate is a pre-COVID-19. How much churn, redundancy, and redeployment will occur now is very hard to predict. Yet, according to the Financial Times, the jobs which have survived other financial crises, are set to be hit once the so-called blue-collar jobs are lost. After the 2008 financial crisis, blue-collar workers suffered job losses between 5 – 10 percent, whereas other roles were little affected.

Let’s fast forward to March 2021 – by that time, we will have spent an entire year in various states of lockdown and the associated impact on the job market. Depending on your sector, you may be pining for that normal natural average churn rate.

Stakeholder implications

By now, most companies will have made the transition to remote working in a professional sense. Staff will no longer be working on personal devices, but with corporate assets, whether they are laptops, PCs, or other data-carrying devices. In many instances, this has meant that new equipment has been purchased and not just shipped from the office. There are no shared printers, for example. And most colleagues will need a smartphone.

In short, considerable investment has been made to facilitate remote working, and while it may be offset to a degree by higher productivity rates if a minimum of 15 percent of people is leaving your company per annum, there are two serious concerns: the cost of the devices; and the data held on them.

IT Asset Recovery: costs and data

From an HR perspective, deploying and recovering assets to remote workers has become a cost which was hitherto not an issue. Part of the cost is the upfront investment in staff, while part comes from not being able to recover and then redeploy the assets.

The longer an ex-employee hangs onto their assets the harder it will be to collect them. This may not be out of malice; for example, they may leave the jurisdiction and it may not be feasible to collect the assets. On an immediate level, a failure to collect the assets hits your bottom line as you will have to purchase new equipment.

And from a GDPR perspective, having company assets in the possession of ex-employees is an area that is legally fraught and extremely challenging. While an HR department might have ‘asset recovery’ on their ‘off-boarding’ process, actually repossessing assets before any data is comprised should be of the utmost importance.

Recover and Redeployment Service

As staff leaves for many reasons, it is vital that the tactics which are adopted for recovering such assets are sensitive, yet efficient. Furthermore, the process involved should be part of your IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) strategy.

As part of the process, the recovered asset should complete a hardware audit and its make, model, serial number, and asset tag should be detailed. All assets must be tested too; there’s no point redeploying a laptop that doesn’t switch on. Also, it’s good ITAD practice to note any damage to the asset and be able to cross-reference the ‘wear and tear’ with an asset register.

Most recovered assets will need to have their data erased and this part of the process should be noted up with a Certificate of Destruction. Once the data erasure has occurred, re-imaging with a corporate image or a base windows image should follow.

Lastly, a decision will be made about the future of the asset: will it be redeployed, used as parts, or recycled in line with environmental regulations.

While the cost of an asset is easy to determine, the cost of a GDPR breach is not. Failure to recover assets can therefore hit you financially and logistically in the short-term, and come back to haunt you with a much larger GDPR hit in the long-term.


Author: Wisetek