Information technology (IT) is one of the essential components in a business, especially in this day and age. It fosters innovation within an organization, which in turn leads to many benefits. It can enhance information distribution, improve data storage, and upgrade the company’s data security. But as always, information technology doesn’t come without any challenges.
One particular issue with information technology is that some employees, particularly those who are technologically challenged, are bound to get left behind whenever the company implements changes in the system. As an employer, it’s your job to meet their needs. That’s precisely why every company must have an IT support in place: to help resolve the issues encountered by employees and customers. Usually, delivering IT support is straightforward, but unfortunately, that isn’t always the case for remote workers.
The Challenges Of Delivering IT Support To Remote Workers
Due to the recent worldwide events, more and more companies are adopting the remote working setup. While there’s nothing wrong with taking that route, it has led employers to realize that it’s surprisingly difficult to deliver IT support to remote workers. In fact, that’s probably why agencies in the IT support industry have become a lot more in demand in light of the recent surge in companies adapting to the remote working setup. So what makes it difficult?
- Delayed response
It’s common for IT support staff to respond to inquiries from remote workers too late as opposed to when employees could directly request their assistance in the office.
- Poor communication
First and foremost, it’s essential to understand that communication plays a huge part in delivering IT support. Since remote workers often face problems with communication, it makes sense why it’s difficult to provide them with the IT support they need.
- Outdated devices
Businesses often provide company-owned devices to their employees, and these devices are kept up-to-date by the IT department to ensure that company software works as intended. But that’s not the case with remote workers. They use their own gadgets, and these devices are sometimes behind in terms of updates, resulting in even more IT issues.
- Unsecure network
One of the main problems of companies is that they have no control over the network configuration of remote workers, which can lead to countless security holes. These security holes can disrupt the connection between the IT department and the worker.
It may be difficult, but it’s possible to deliver support to your employees working at home amid these challenges. On that note, here’s how you can deliver IT support to remote workers:
Establish 24/7 IT Support
If your business follows a remote working setup, chances are that a few employees are working late at night when most staff members are asleep. If these employees encounter an IT issue in the middle of the night, they’d have to wait until the next day, which means they’ll lose valuable work time. In some cases, the IT issue may get worse within that waiting period, so it’s best to resolve it as soon as possible. That’s precisely why you need to make sure your IT staff works 24/7, especially if your remote workers also work around the clock.
Building 24/7 IT support means hiring more employees to work night shifts. This would result in more expenses to pay for and more employees to manage. If you’re not up for that challenge at the moment, you can always consider outsourcing your IT support. By doing so, you no longer have to worry about managing the IT support department since it’s all up to the outsourcing agency. Furthermore, outsourcing IT support carries the following advantages:
- Minimize expenses on IT support
When you outsource your IT support department, you’re essentially paying for the agency as a whole, as opposed to when you pay staff members individually.
- Focus on core business matters
Since you’re handing over the responsibility to another agency, you no longer have to spend time worrying about IT support, meaning you can focus on other business matters.
- Stay safe and secure without putting extra effort
Outsourcing agencies typically follow a strict protocol to protect against cyberthreats, so you can rest assured that your IT support department is safe and secure.
- Agencies often offer additional services
Apart from IT support, some agencies may offer additional services such as reporting, analytics, and consultation.
Take note that while this would minimize the downtime of your remote workers, there’s no guarantee that it would resolve the issue altogether. On the bright side, there are other ways to minimize downtime, one of which is creating a knowledge base for your employees.
Create A Knowledge Base For Your Employees
As the name suggests, a knowledge base is a platform that contains all sorts of information surrounding a particular topic. It can come in the form of a website, software, or even a document.
The primary purpose of a knowledge base is to ensure that individuals no longer have to spend their time searching for the information they need. In your case, a knowledge base would consist of all types of information that your remote workers may need in the event of an IT issue. They no longer have to scroll through old messages nor do they have to comb through endless emails for a single file. A knowledge base stores all of those things in one place.
For instance, if a remote worker encounters an issue opening the company software, they no longer have to seek out IT support. They can simply go to the knowledge base and look for the solution there. Here are some tips when creating a knowledge base for your employees:
- Record presentations and webinars and upload the files to the knowledge base.
- Create blog posts on how to fix common technical issues with company software.
- Build a FAQs page to answer the common questions of remote workers.
- Upload documents such as onboarding instructions and brand guidelines.
- Share content from trusted sources such as online courses and articles.
You should also allow employees to contribute to the knowledge base since there’s a chance they know something that other remote workers don’t.
Install Real-Time Monitoring Software On Devices
Another way to address the ‘delayed response’ issue is to simply monitor remote workers using real-time monitoring software. By requiring employees to install that kind of program on their devices, you can find out what’s happening on their device during work hours. That way, your remote workers no longer have to contact IT support staff since the staff can quickly detect any IT-related issue and respond immediately.
This is helpful in the case of cyberattacks where a response is required as soon as possible. Of course, it’s best not to micromanage your remote workers as this may lead to burnout. If you plan on implementing this system for your remote workers, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Limit the extent of monitoring
Many companies micromanage remote workers by requiring them to check in regularly, reviewing each employee’s hourly snapshots, and monitoring browser activity. This practice can quickly overwhelm employees as it puts them in a stressful situation. If you’re going to monitor your remote workers, make sure to limit its extent.
- Ignore unnecessary information
Real-time monitoring software is capable of analyzing mouse movements or the website activity of a worker. While this information is fascinating, it doesn’t prove anything. It doesn’t tell you how productive the worker is, nor does it inform you of their IT issues. What it does is shift the attention away from the real problem.
While this tip can undoubtedly help you deliver essential IT support to your remote workers, it also comes with several disadvantages. For that reason, if you ever implement real-time monitoring, make sure you give your employees some breathing room to avoid burnout and excessive stress.
Supply Company-Owned Devices To Remote Workers
No matter how solid your IT support is, it doesn’t matter if the other side is entirely lacking. More specifically, if your remote workers don’t have the necessary equipment to do their job correctly, then all of your efforts in delivering IT support would be in vain.
You can, however, deal with this issue by simply providing your remote workers with company-owned devices. By doing so, you’re solving their lack of equipment while improving their productivity and loyalty. Furthermore, by supplying company-owned devices to remote workers, you’re gaining control over their security measures, which would then allow you to strengthen the security of valuable business information.
Allow Workers To Choose Other Communication Methods
While it’s true that most businesses nowadays communicate through email and instant messaging, that doesn’t mean you must conform to such practices. If you want to establish a solid communication line between your IT support team and remote workers, you must first ensure that your employees are comfortable with the current communication methods.
On that note, make sure you allow your workers to choose what communication methods they’re most comfortable with. Should you use videoconferencing as the primary medium? Is it best to stick to traditional texting? Does sending emails work for your remote workers? These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself before deciding on what medium to use when establishing communication lines for your IT support staff and remote workers.
While remote working indeed has some merits to businesses, it’s not without challenges. One particular issue many employers face with a remote working setup is the difficulty of providing IT support to employees. With this guide, you should be able to mediate this issue, but remember that the problems you have to address don’t end there. Make sure you incorporate other strategies to support your remote workers.