IT support for managing remote working in a crisis

By Mark Watson|11 March 2020

Whether or not the impact of coronavirus in the UK will result in school closures, city lockdowns and movement restrictions, the virus has certainly highlighted the importance of business continuity planning and ensuring that your business and technology can flex with major disruption.

For many organisations facilitating remote working has become a top priority. Some companies have already deployed remote working en masse while offices have undergone a deep clean, while many companies are rapidly rolling out remote working for staff that need to self-isolate. A few UK companies have gone further and told all staff to work from home where feasible.

While the focus of many articles on remote working and coronavirus have been on deploying cloud solutions, once you have the tools to facilitate a virtual workplace, IT support will be an important factor for a successful deployment.

IT support considerations for remote working

  1. Capacity and higher ticket volumes

If you need to rapidly deploy remote working across an organisation you can expect a spike in tickets and user requests. Multiple users may need to be upgraded so they can access collaboration apps like Microsoft Teams and other cloud applications that they don’t generally need when in the office. And as users get to grips with unfamiliar technology you can expect more 1st line tickets for basic IT support. You may need extended support until staff can return to the office or to handle the initial transition.

Top tip: start onboarding users now to manage your resources more efficiently. Also instigate training programmes to help users get up to speed quickly and reduce some of those 1st line tickets.

  1. Network performance

Employees will be using their own WiFi to access SaaS solutions like Office 365 from outside of the office, but they’ll still need to connect to your network. Latency and delay can make remote working unproductive so make sure you have sufficient resource to handle multiple remote users. Speak to your Network Operations Centre about the impact of wide-spread remote working on your network.

  1. Platform support

Many organisations have moved to thin desktop clients to provide network access on premise, and therefore may not have enough corporate laptops for everyone who needs to work remotely. That means employees will need to use their own devices to either connect to your VPN, remote desktop solution or SaaS service. This presents a few security challenges but also IT support challenges too. Your IT support team may need to connect via a web browser to the users device, so make sure you have the right remote support solutions to do so – regardless of the end-user’s platform.

  1. Out of hours IT support

You may also want to consider whether you need to extend your IT support from core business to out-of-hours too. While you might expect remote workers to work during traditional business hours this might not be practical during the coronavirus crisis. For example, if schools shutdown you may have employees who need more flexible hours so they can juggle childcare around work.

Identify employees in this position and others that might have specific requirements to explore whether out-of-hours IT support would help maintain productivity and business operations.

If you use a managed service provider like UKN Group for your IT service desk, we recommend you speak to them now about preparing for wide-spread remote working. While you may not have to deploy this measure, if you do it’s advisable to plan ahead. Make sure they can support your remote workers, have sufficient capacity for potential spikes in ticket volumes and can work with you to give your organisation much needed resilience in a crisis.

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