Providing IT support for telecommuting employees has always been a tricky proposition, but it is particularly challenging now that COVID-19 stay-at-home orders have effectively forced entire companies into work-from-home arrangements.
Even before the current crisis created a surge in telecommuting, remote workers said IT support problems limited their productivity. According to a survey by Staples, one-third of telecommuters reported their performance suffered due to a lack of support, tools and training.
Telecommuters are highly likely to require frequent tech support for the simple reason they are no longer working with office technology that is regularly monitored, maintained, patched and upgraded. Home computers, Internet connections and wireless networks don’t get the same attention and may not be entirely reliable.
Those issues are being exacerbated by the rapid spike in at-home workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. About half of the U.S. workforce, roughly 70 million Americans, are believed to be working from home at least part of the time during the crisis, according to consultants with Global Workplace Analytics. That’s up from only about 7 percent, or 9.8 million workers, in 2019.
Support Calls Increasing
Help desk workers report much higher volumes of support calls from teleworkers over the past few weeks. These are some of the more common support requests over this period:
Conferencing solutions. Team collaboration tools with video and web conferencing capabilities have become essential for allowing employees to connect and communicate with colleagues and customers who are also working from home. Employees often need help with webcams or digital cameras, microphones and speakers, video cards and team collaboration client software.
Network access. Those who have never worked from home before may be unfamiliar with VPN technology for accessing the company network. They often need help installing and configuring the VPN client. Authentication and permissions are other common issues for VPN users.
Cloud applications. New teleworkers may be unfamiliar with some of the cloud-based applications they’ll need to use while working from home. Microsoft reports an unprecedented spike in the use of its Office 365 productivity suite — as well as a corresponding surge in support calls. Users often need help setting up profiles and accessing these apps.
Endpoint security. Remote workers may use a variety of devices to access network resources, which creates multiple attack surfaces. Users often need help installing client security software on their devices, as well as application updates and patches.
The sudden need for remote assistance is placing a strain on IT staffs that were already dealing with manpower shortages. Complicating things is the fact that most help desk personnel have also been forced to work from home, limiting their access to some of the tools and solutions they regularly use in the office.
How MSPs Can Help
Because the pandemic has created such a sudden shift in technology requirements, many organizations are choosing to enlist the services of a managed services provider (MSP) such as Verteks with the manpower and expertise to manage the support requirements of rising numbers of remote workers.
Qualified MSPs offer network monitoring and maintenance as well as managed security services, help desk support and more. MSPs can also provide enhanced security and compliance by ensuring that proper security measures are implemented and updated. Patch management, antivirus updates and firewall monitoring are among the critical tasks your staff can offload.
Although remote work has enjoyed mainstream acceptance in recent years, few organizations were fully prepared for their entire workforce to become remote almost overnight. Many key employees are working with remote-access solutions for the first time and need tech support to guide them along. A qualified MSP such as Verteks can shoulder some of the load and ensure that your team remains efficient and productive during this unusual time. Give us a call to discuss your specific needs.