How Can Maintaining Employee Devices Improve Performance?
Most office jobs imply 8 hours of daily screen time, so maintaining the cleanliness of work devices is pivotal from both a hygiene and psychology perspective. Refreshing devices on a regular basis can also minimize the effects of their wear and tear, increasing longevity in the long term.
But what does it mean to ‘clean’ a device? The correct steps don’t always come intuitively, and one may destroy a perfectly functioning device if maintenance isn’t done properly. Overall, device cleaning should be done with care both in terms of hardware and software:
Over time, many commonly used digital devices in the workplace harbor more germs than the office toilet seat. No matter how clean your office may be, it is impossible to avoid dust and debris completely. Filth on your device is not to be neglected, as it can actually cause permanent damage to your computer’s inner components.
Remove dust and debris: With long periods of accumulation, dust and debris can, unfortunately, clog computer vents and fans. This facilitates overheating and hardware failure (such as central processing units and graphic processing units) may follow. An office full of dust on devices can also be detrimental to health, as employees would inevitably inhale the dirt for hours on end. This can be particularly harmful for those with a dust allergy.
Removing dust and debris can be done with compressed air sprayed around one to three inches away from the device (going any closer may create stronger air pressure and damage the interior of the device). Such sprays are not difficult to find online and can be purchased at a small price.
Currently, more advanced solutions exist that also help clear out dust efficiently, without much effort from the user. Acer DustDefender is one such example. Every three hours, the fan is programmed to blow out dust by reversing the fan direction, thus allowing the device to remain cool and reach optimal performance. Exclusively available for TravelMate P series laptops, this kind of technology gives TravelMate laptop users peace of mind that their devices maintain constant, excellent thermal performance and cleanliness conditions.
Clean screens: After prolonged use, it isn’t unusual for screens to gather filth or become smudged. A less-than-immaculate screen is not ideal for viewing and can also affect eye health. Tools for screen-wiping should be chosen carefully, however, as the wrong wipe can actually damage the surface.
The benefits of a maintained device
Other than the obvious aspects of cleanliness and health, physical cleaning of devices comes with extra benefits for the business in the longer term. By maintaining work devices in ideal condition, businesses can expect longer device lifespan. This helps reduce electronic waste and saves funds on device replacement. Of course, devices that stay in optimal condition can also perform tasks more efficiently, consume less energy over time, and present issues of functionality less frequently. Clean computers are also aesthetic and can create a sense of professionalism. This creates a good impression for clients, and may also boost employee motivation.
Software maintenance is just as key as hardware cleaning, and it can comprise of the following steps:
Decluttering hard drives: Files at work can accumulate rapidly over time. A cluttered hard drive (especially one with disorganized files) can lower work efficiency and also keep a computer from performing efficiently. As such, going through old files on the hard drive and eliminating obsolete ones can clear up space. A good general rule of thumb is to keep your HDD at 80-85% and your SSD at 75% full capacity. Decluttering hard drives will take some time, but it is well worth the effort.
Updating software on a regular basis: Outdated software may imply cybersecurity breaches, so it is pivotal for employees to update their software regularly. Updated software can also enhance device performance, so there is little reason not to engage with it. Your IT department should, almost always, handle software updates because they can ensure compatibility with existing systems and maintain data security. Centralized management of updates by IT professionals also prevents potential conflicts and ensures consistent software versions across the organization.
Scanning for viruses and malware: Computer viruses and malware are advancing, and they can bring unthinkable harm to a device. They can cause devices to be locked or render them unusable. In other cases, viruses and malware can steal, delete, or encrypt confidential data, which is detrimental to the core operation of a business.
In light of this threat, regular scanning of viruses and malware should be a business priority and employees should ideally do it once a week. It may appear to be extra work, but it is a good investment of time to ensure that the security and integrity of a business isn’t compromised.
Tips for maintaining work devices
Device cleaning should be done with care, and here is some guidance on how it can be done.
Turn off and unplug the device before physical cleaning. As physical cleaning can involve slightly damp cleaning tools, it is important to turn off and unplug the device for safety reasons. It can also avoid issues such as tripping over cords when cleaning.
Then, wipe with the right cleaning tool. There is no one-size-fits-all wipe for all devices on the market, and this largely has to do with the type of screen your device has. OLED, LCD, or LED screens may suffer disastrous consequences if cleaned directly with water. Products containing acetone, ammonia, ethyl acid, ethyl alcohol, methyl alcohol, methyl chloride, and toluene are also often harmful to digital devices and caution should be used when considering such tools for cleaning. It is therefore important to first check the product manual before doing any cleaning. Generally, however, isopropyl alcohol can be used for keyboards, and microfiber cloths should be safe to clean screens.
For internal cleaning, give it to IT. Letting IT professionals handle the internal cleaning of computer systems ensures the safety and integrity of delicate internal components, prevents potential data loss, and maintains the device's warranty. Their expertise prevents accidental damage and ensures the use of appropriate cleaning methods. Entrusting this task to IT not only prolongs the life of the equipment but also safeguards critical company data and investments.
Back up all files or ensure that they are safely stored in the cloud. Digital cleaning may involve a lot of deleting, so it is pivotal to first make sure that all files needed are safely stored, neatly organized, and will be unaffected by the digital cleaning process.
Then, decide what steps to take for digital cleaning. Digital cleaning tasks can be big or small. Small tasks such as deleting unwanted hard drive files should be done by each individual employee, but some heavy-lifting tasks should still be done by IT for safety reasons.
Device maintenance: An essential practice in the workplace
The advantages of well-maintained devices are manifold. Cleaning efforts help boost the health of employees and by giving the devices a ‘refresh’, employees may feel more productive. Over the years, well-maintained devices are less susceptible to wear and tear as well. Device cleaning is by no means a tedious chore – especially with the help of daily automated cleaning applications such as Acer DustDefender– so companies should proactively encourage device cleaning on a regular basis and provide any training or utilities that employees may need. While device cleaning may take up time, the benefits most certainly outweigh its costs.
Esme Lee is a science writer and editor in the UK, carrying a passion for tech copywriting. She has a background in educational neuroscience and holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge.