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How to ensure your remote employees have the IT support they need

remote working
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/bikeriderlondon)

Remote work has become the new norm. More than 4.3 million people, that is nearly 3.2 percent of the entire workforce in the USA, work remotely.

This trend shows that remote work is hugely preferred by both employees and employers alike. Companies find that working remotely boosts employee productivity and morale. Findings from a survey suggests that employees are 51 percent more productive when they work from home.

Remote work usually promotes the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) culture, enabling employers to save funds spent on equipment. Also, employers can hire a workforce without restrictions on geographical locations. They are free to choose the best talent from across the globe.

However, remote work is not all rainbows and unicorns. The remote working environment faces a few challenges. One among them is tackling technical issues during work. How can organizations support remote employees in the event of their email going down or a computer crash?

Here, we have consolidated a few ways in which the best IT support can be assured to remote employees.

1. Facilitate remote IT support

If your remote workers experience a technical problem, your priority should be to resolve the issue at the earliest possible.

It may not be possible for your IT person and the remote worker to meet in-person. Therefore, you should ensure to maintain an IT team that can provide remote support.

This team should be able to contact the employee over call or chat, and offer the best-suited solution. Further, if there is a need to access the employee’s system, screen-sharing and virtual conferencing tools can serve the purpose effectively. The IT support provider should be able to give clear directions, thereby facilitating a faster resolution.

You should make sure that your company is well-equipped with the tools to offer high-level quality support irrespective of your employee’s work location.

If your team is spread across multiple geographical locations, you should consider maintaining an IT team that is multi-linguistic. They should be able to connect with your remote workers and cater to their needs whenever required.

2. Offer 24/7 IT support

The working hours of employees operating from home may vary from those operating from the office. When remote employees experience a system crash or are unable to access resources, they may need help instantaneously. You should ensure that your IT support team is always available to attend to your employees.

24/7 availability is also important in companies having a distributed workforce. Remote employees may work in different time zones and need to be attended to at any time of the day or night. You should ensure that your remote workers are not forced to wait until standard in-house working hours to resolve their problems.

Several companies collaborate with a managed IT services provider to meet their IT needs. Outsourced IT support companies are available round-the-clock to support your remote teams.

Maintaining an IT support help desk is also a good idea to streamline incoming technical concerns. Ensure that all problems from your employees are accounted for and addressed based on priority, at the earliest possible to support uninterrupted services and continuous productivity.

3. Be equipped to attend to local emergencies

Though most issues can be resolved through remote support, there may be times when the employee’s hardware needs a health check. It may not be possible for your employee to travel to the office. In these cases, working with an IT provider in the locality, will help to take things forward.

Consider establishing a wide-reaching network of IT support through a local managed services provider (MSP). This network should enable the MSP to deploy a specialist available near your remote employee’s location. The collaboration will enable timely interference by a local expert and quick resolution of issues.

4. Incorporate stringent security protocols

It is best to be cautious against the various threats your remote team can be exposed to. Remote workers are free to work from anywhere. They may connect over unprotected and public networks. In these cases, data may get compromised. Therefore, your IT support team should diligently take measures to educate your remote team about the various risks posed to sensitive business information. You should also ensure to train your remote employees about how hackers target their victims. For example, let them know about the threats posed by ransomware and malicious links in phishing emails/messages.

Here are a few other factors you should insist on.

a. Adherence to IT Practices

  • Mandate Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
  • Insist on using a standard password management solution. Educate your remote employees about the risks of using easy-to-guess and simple passwords.
  • Conduct phishing audits to check the readiness of your remote employees
  • Ensure regular backups are saved for use in case of a data loss
  • Make sure to limit access to “read-only” during file sharing
  • Incorporate an email filtering solution to check the credibility of incoming and outgoing messages

b. Effectively Manage User Accounts

Maintaining security protocols doesn’t end the risk of cyber-attacks. Your IT teams should be able to identify bottlenecks in processes and find ways to curb them. Make sure that your IT team follows these best practices:

  • Ensure that every remote user has a unique username and password to access their account
  • Make sure that privileges and permissions provided to every user are documented separately
  • Check if users are connecting over a single access tool consistently
  • Make sure that only authorized users are being provided access to sensitive business information

Moreover, emphasize to your remote employees the need to update anti-virus and malware protection in their systems. Having a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in place is also a good idea. This way your entire workforce, including your remote employees, is connected over a common network. Your IT support team will easily be able to monitor the network and identify glitches promptly.

5. Provide end-to-end IT support

It is not enough for your IT support team to only address technical issues. They also need to provide a solution for them. For example, if any one of your remote team members has experienced a system crash, the IT support team should be able to approach them and provide an alternative. This should include offering a temporary system to use while the original system has been handed over to the IT support team for the necessary repairs.

In other words, your IT support team should be well-equipped with standby hardware/software to address emergencies. This will facilitate uninterrupted productivity and business continuity.

Rick Rudolph, President, Solve LTD

Rick Rudolph is the President of Solve LTD, IT Support Company.