In early 2020, Ali Najaf’s cat Percy knocked over a cup of coffee on his desk, instantly destroying his personal laptop. So when his employer transitioned to remote work just a few months later, the human resources professional says protecting his work device — which contains sensitive employee data — was top of mind.
“I wanted to make sure my work laptop is properly secured, because it’s someone else’s property,” he said.
When work was primarily confined to the office, there were fewer physical hazards to worry about when it came to keeping devices safe. Now that work is more flexible, employees are increasingly transporting their laptops to and from the office, as well as coffee shops, co-working spaces — and even on trips. Each new environment comes with a range of new dangers, from babies and puppies to hot cars and cold beverages to humidity and rain.
“They’re truly mobile devices now,” says Mark Zadvinskis, president of Higher Ground Gear, which designs protective equipment for laptops, phones, and tablets. “Your day is going to be more flexible than if you were stuck in an office, and you’re going to be exposed to more elements.”
Zadvinskis says he’s seen countless ways to damage a laptop. Common accidents include devices that are forgotten on the roof of a car; laptops slipping out of bags left unzipped; and overheating caused by accidentally blocking air vents.
As for feline co-worker Percy, he is on the outs. Najaf locks the door to his workspace every time he steps away — even just to the bathroom or mailbox — to ensure his furry friend doesn’t cause any more damage.
With work laptops increasingly making their way into riskier environments, here are a few ways to keep them safe and secure.
This summer’s massive heat waves create conditions that can seriously damage laptops and other electronics. Keeping the device cool is critical, and there are some proactive steps you can take to prevent it from getting too hot to handle.
One good rule of thumb is to shut off devices entirely — not just in sleep or power saving mode — when not in use. If you need to make a stop between work and home or leave your device in your car for any reason, the best way to protect it is to turn the power off completely and keep it out of direct sunlight.