The company policy for travel outside the EU was simple... Your own laptop would go into a server room and become a remote desktop host, you'd be given a blank laptop. When you got to your destination safely you'd call up IT who'd tell you where to download the VPN software and provide you login details. If asked why you laptop was blank by border agents you were instructed to give them a copy of the company IT policy.
Which is all well and good border agents demand you go through the above process and log in to the VPN and then remote in to your own laptop. It happened on multiple occasions in several countries and in most cases the employee was deported after refusing to comply.
I think the expensive legal brains the company employs decided it is better to simply admit that they do it this way to stop border inspections. Better a deportation of a single employee rather than risk compromising their IT systems and data.
empty laptop or no, that brings up a general issue - border agent asks you to VPN into your corp network and to give them access into it (which beside a slew of corporate policies may also violate a bunch of laws like GDPR, HIPAA, SOX, EPA Clean Water and PCI compliance, etc - IANAL, so who knows what laws can be violated, all those corporate compliance and business conducts emails are so scary). Me being a little guy doing as i told/ordered to by the ones with authority, I'd just call corp IT security, some bozo high up the chain, and let them do their job - sort it out and make the decision. Sucks though for small companies without that fat and important corp IT security and all those C[compliance|information|customer privacy|security|sustainability|etc.]Os around.
The Irish branch has to comply with EU and Irish law. Think GDPR and various other laws relating to keeping financial data secure. Plus they would also have very strict contracts with their bigger clients guaranteeing the security and privacy of their super sensitive commercial data.
You would be unwise to assume that the data retrieved through a customs search of your laptop or phone wouldn't end up in your rivals possession.