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How to Keep Your Employees Happy With Their Company PCs (Without Losing Control of Your IT)

Your staff will be more content if they can install their choice of software. Here's how to give them that freedom while keeping control.

By David Murphy, PC World
June 13, 2012 09:10 AM ET

PC World - If you're a typical small-business owner, you don't have a centralized provisioning system that can easily and automatically deploy each desktop or laptop system. You might not even have a dedicated employee, let alone a whole department, to manage your IT resources. And you probably give each user their own local login, instead of using a centralized authentication server. In other words, your employees have the keys to their local computer kingdoms. And that means they can do just about anything on their machines: Install new applications, install undesirable applications, change settings, and perhaps even unintentionally corrupt the Registry or download malware.

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Giving your employees the freedom to try new tools, listen to music while they work, or visit social media sites in their off time will improve their morale and enhance their productivity. But that flexibility can quickly lead to disaster if they wind up ruining their computers, bogging them down with garbage apps, or worse.

So how do you balance keeping your employees happy with maintaining control of your company's assets?

The Decision

One strategy is to deny your employees all administrative control over their computers. Such a restriction would reduce the risk of your computers being waylaid by buggy apps and malware, because no one would be able to install anything. The drawback is that you--or your designee--would have to do all of the installing for them. That can be a time-consuming process, especially if you're deploying a new application to your entire workforce--even if it's just a handful of employees. Then you have to consider periodic security patches, bug fixes, driver updates, and upgrades. And don't forget the need to install drivers and software for new peripherals, such as printers and scanners.

Granting Administrator Access

Instead of managing everything yourself, you can take a number of steps to bestow administrative rights to your employees without losing complete control over the computers you've provided.

Before you open up everyone's computer for unfettered use, establish a baseline software environment that will be standard for each staffer. Set a policy that allows employees to augment their computers with new applications but prohibits them from uninstalling or disabling the baseline programs--especially the antivirus and antimalware tools, a secure Web browser, an office suite (unless you use a cloud app, such as Google Docs), and whatever proprietary software your small business needs to function.

Then, use an application such as DriveImage XML (free for private use; a five-user commercial license costs $100) to clone the system drive on each class of computer you'll deploy. Your goal is to create an image of each type of desktop system in your office, from standard administrative machines to function-specific desktops (video-editing workstations, for example). If disaster strikes or an employee renders their computer unusable, you can quickly restore it to its original configuration.

Originally published on www.pcworld.com. Click here to read the original story.

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