Help Desks Need Help: How to Support a Fully Remote Workforce

BrandPost By Marie Ruzzo
Mar 03, 2021
Remote Work

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Credit: kokouu

The transition from offices to a fully remote workforce has created challenges for IT teams and help desks, as IT’s assets/infrastructure of hardware, software, and support must adapt to complex work-from-home (WFH) environments.

Rescue by LogMeIn recently teamed up with IDG to conduct a survey of IT leaders, Helpdesks in the New Normal, to understand the impact of increased remote work on IT help desks.

Survey Says: Help Desks Face Multiple Challenges in the “New Normal”

While the “transition shock” of scrambling to get hardware into employee homes, setting up systems and VPNs, and providing remote support as ticket volumes surged to unprecedented levels issues have been largely overcome, several big challenges remain. Let’s explore them:

  1. The need to scale and flex support

Users who once walked down the hallway for IT help are now distributed all over the map, as is the help desk itself. Nealy three-quarters (71%) of survey respondents manage a large and complex volume of ongoing demand from a now fully remote workforce. There’s been no “back to normal” for anyone.

Help desks must be prepared to manage ongoing IT complexity coming from home environments where workers are increasingly using personal devices and non-compliant equipment for business. The potential for work disruption and employee frustration makes providing easy-to-access support via multiple channels a mission-critical function. Nothing terrifies IT professionals more than a frustrated user saying, “I’ll try to fix this myself,” especially from home.

  1. BYOD: personal devices have become work devices

Many companies experienced challenges with bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies long before COVID-19, largely because of data privacy and network security/cybersecurity concerns. But with everyone working from home, BYOD has become part of the “new normal.”

Our IDG/ LogMeIn survey makes it clear that the use of personal devices for work is now prevalent, with half (50%) of respondents saying BYOD is currently happening in their organization “to a great extent” or “to some extent.” Only 7% of respondents say BYOD is not happening “at all.”

The recent transition to a fully remote workforce has also changed attitudes about BYOD, with 71% of respondents saying their organization is now “more accepting of employees using personal devices for work.”

  1. BYOD and remote work have exposed gaps in security

Let’s place this challenge in the “no brainer” category. Even in pre-pandemic office environments, where IT departments and help desks had more physical access and control over company-owned infrastructure (and their associated employees), ensuring the security of systems and data was a major challenge. Now, with computing happening in complex home environments, often over personal devices, those security challenges have only gotten bigger.

The (relatively) good news is that 76% of survey respondents say they can “readily mitigate” the security risks and small gaps that have been exposed in the transition to a fully remote workforce. The remaining 24% of IT leaders, however, are facing bigger challenges and “considerable gaps we must close,” but clearly haven’t closed yet.

  1. Help desks are finding innovative ways to help

Help desks aren’t waiting around for solutions to fall from the sky, but have been innovative in finding ways to support their remote users. Our survey shows help desks have used a number of flexible approaches:

  • 49% – Flattening tiers of support (e.g., tier 2 staff now taking tier 1 requests)
  • 40% – Crowd-sourcing support via Slack, Teams, etc.
  • 36% – Increasing hours of support
  • 35% – Expanding to support non-compliant equipment (see BYOD discussion)
  • 26% – Changing SLAs
  • 22% – Outsourcing to MSP/BPO

What’s clear is that help desks need and deserve more help in the form of easy-to-use tools that can be customized to meet their unique needs as they support the complex demands of a fully remote workforce. Agility means having the capacity to flex support as user demand changes (and it will).

What Help Desks Need to Support the “New Normal”

Now that we’ve examined the many challenges help desks face, let’s explore potential solutions. In a business and IT landscape defined by both complexity and ongoing uncertainty, help desks must lean into agility. Here’s how:

  • Help desks need easy-to-use and customizable tools that enable them to manage uncertainty and future-proof what they do. They need remote and flexible solutions that improve resolution rates regardless of device, network, or operating system, maximizing productivity for both employees and help desks. The days of sending connected devices and hardware back to an office to troubleshoot are largely gone.
  • Help desks must have the capacity to quickly (and remotely) access employee devices to run scripts, conduct diagnostics, and push updates, ensuring that issues get resolved quickly and everyone can get back to work. When everyone works remotely, issue resolution must also happen remotely.
  • Help desks should be empowered with video-based support tools (and other user-friendly communication tools) to bridge the gap between the help desk and your remote workforce. This ensures they can easily guide employees through workstation setup, hardware troubleshooting, device configuration, and other support issues.
  • Since IT security is a critical concern in remote environments, help desks need support partners who take security seriously, leveraging multi-factor authentication, encryption, and permissions-based functionality to ensure it. Organizations cannot choose between remote work and security – but need both.

Want to learn more about helping your help desk work more productively and flexibly in supporting your remote workforce? Reach out to us hereAnd download the infographic here.