FCA spends £5m on laptops to aid hybrid working – FT Adviser

The Financial Conduct Authority has spent £5m on new laptops and mobile phones to support remote working.

Data obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the Parliament Street think tank showed that between April 2021 and August 2021, a total of 5,850 laptops were purchased by the regulator.

Although the exact spend per laptop was not disclosed due to commercial restrictions, the FCA stated the spending range was £5,000,000 to £10,000,000 in total for laptops over the last 12 months.

The FCA also purchased 307 Samsung phones and 39 iPhones with an indicative spend of below £100,000.

Sridhar Iyengar, MD for Zoho Europe, said: “Increased digitalisation is critical to any business operating today, but adapting to a flexible remote or hybrid work model requires more than just technology investment. 

“Companies must ensure that staff are provided with the provisions, care, guidance and infrastructure to effectively adapt to new operational changes, no matter the size of business or whether they are private or public companies.”

He said as services become increasingly digitalised, it’s important that businesses equip themselves with the right tools and platform to ensure they run as efficiently as when workers were office-based. 

“The working model switch should not prove a hindrance to any aspect of performance,” he added.

“Organisations must also ensure they remain compliant with the regulations they are governed by, in the same way they would need to with any working model.

“Leaders must take the time to assess whether the right digital strategy and culture is in place to serve them long-term. They must be prepared to be more adaptable, flexible and agile than ever before as this period has shown businesses need to be prepared for whatever the future may hold, and that can include completely unexpected factors.”

The FOI also showed the FCA had procured 5,500 Microsoft licenses for Office 365 in 2019. 

In 2020, the regulator procured 5,200 Microsoft licenses and 5,300 in 2021. These license purchases would have cost £1,000,000 – £5,000,000 for each year.

An FCA spokesperson said: “Most jobs now require computers. It is important our colleagues have the right equipment to do their jobs effectively.”

Last month the FCA warned about the dangers of remote working to businesses, saying it will evaluate firms considering remote or hybrid working on a case-by-case basis.  

According to the guidelines, companies will be required to prove that the remote working does not or is unlikely to cause detriment to consumers, damage the integrity of the market, increase the risk of financial crime and reduce competition.

Edward Blake, area vice president EMEA for Absolute Software, said: “Remote working is evidently one of the favoured operational models for long term remote working, but organisations which opt for it must ensure that they are protecting the additional devices and users on a given network.

“Even the UK’s regulators aren’t safe from the onslaught of cyber crime aimed at newly remote workers, and it’s essential that IT decision makers have full visibility over their network of distributed devices.”

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