Remote workers are the future, and they’re already here. New technology has made it possible for many companies to switch their workforces to a more flexible system that allows employees to perform jobs in different locations compared to traditional brick-and-mortar operations would allow.
As the workforce becomes increasingly distributed, providing remote support has become an essential skill for IT departments everywhere. Fortunately, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel to provide exceptional service across physical distances; instead, admins can rely on tried-and-true techniques that offer reliable results regardless of whether your team is supporting one person or one hundred people who may be working from any number of locations around the world. That said, here are some tips for providing remote support that spans the digital divide:
1. Hire a Managed IT Service Provider to Manage Your IT
Instead of doing everything yourself, you should consider outsourcing the management of your remote workforce to a managed service provider. A service such as Executech’s managed IT services in Seattle or other providers in your area can help you design and deploy a remote support strategy that fits your business needs. The managed IT service will provide 24/7 monitoring and live callback functions to ensure minimal time spent patching up workstations as your in-house IT team performs your business’s core IT tasks, or you can outsource technical support services to make the process easier on yourself.
2. Be Quick but Don’t Rush
One of the best parts about providing support to a distributed workforce is that you’ll be able to respond quickly the same way you could if your users were all in the same office. However, it’s important not to sacrifice thoroughness for speed when supporting your remote workers. If anything, this should become even more important as companies move away from traditional brick-and-mortar locations and into flexible workspace arrangements.
One way to ensure that you’re being both quick and thorough is by using a cloud-based ticketing system, which can streamline incident management by assigning tickets to engineers based on their skill set and availability. In addition, tools like screen sharing can help admins diagnose problems in real-time without having to ask users to access and share their screens manually.
3. Use Video to Your Advantage
Video support is a great way to provide remote support because it allows you to give visual instructions in addition to simply talking an end-user through the process of troubleshooting or fixing their device. Thanks to cheap, fast broadband and applications like Skype and Facetime, video chat has become very popular in recent years. So, if your company doesn’t use some type of screen-sharing capabilities already, now is a perfect time!
4. Stay Organized
Before you work live with a managed IT service, be sure to take some time and plan out exactly how you want your platform configured. Which types of support would you like to handle via different tools? How will you handle scheduling, escalation, reporting, and backup? You should address all these questions before you publish your platform for the first time. Otherwise, unanticipated problems might arise that could damage client relationships.
5. Make Yourself Available
Remote support can be extremely useful because it allows you to provide support at all hours of the day. However, end-users may not always want to reach out for help in the middle of the night or first thing on a weekend morning (even if they do like getting stuff fixed faster). So make sure you set up clear office hours during which remote service requests are welcome. Try to honor those times as much as possible but also communicate how and when users can access other forms of support.
For managers, the ability to provide remote support can be extremely rewarding. Not only do you get to help your employees resolve issues faster, but it also allows you to demonstrate your expertise and make yourself appear more accessible. However, it’s important not to let this privilege go to your head. After all, providing remote support shouldn’t become a distraction or displace other responsibilities that are just as important (if not more so). So if you’re lucky enough to have access to remote support capabilities, keep in mind that your users will likely appreciate any advice you give them. However, they probably won’t want or expect their boss to do their job for them!
7. Verify That the Problem is Fixed
One crucial mistake managers make when providing remote support is assuming that they’ve fixed the end user’s problem (and not double-checking to make sure). The entire operations of your business depend on every system working and supporting one another, so you’ll need to be thorough.
Even if you feel 100% confident that your solutions resolved the issue, it’s still a good idea to open up the affected application and do some basic troubleshooting on your own just so you’re sure everything is working properly.
8. Check with Your Co-Workers
If you want to be thorough, ask one or more of your colleagues for their input. They might use the same applications as your employees. Anyone who works in IT will tell you there are always different ways to accomplish a task. So why not pick the brains of those who have been in your shoes before?
9. Avoid Convenience Services
Remote support is a great way to make the lives of your team members easier; however, there’s no reason it should come at the expense of security. Some services may be fine for small businesses but wholly inappropriate for large enterprises. So, while you might want to take advantage of advanced tools like screen mirroring or video chat functionality, they can also introduce new risks. Always consult with IT security personnel first and proceed with caution.
10. Know When to Say No
Remote support isn’t appropriate for every type of issue as some problems are better solved with on-site personnel. Some problems might be too complex, or involve sensitive information that users wouldn’t want endangering their privacy, or simply because it’s impractical for managers to provide remote assistance (such as during emergencies). Fortunately, there are usually workarounds available if you know where to look, so consider checking out alternative help desk options before shutting any requests down completely.
Remote support is a valuable tool for helping employees remain productive after your business has transitioned to being fully remote. But it’s also important to respect their time and appreciate the bigger picture. For instance, while it might be tempting to provide on-demand access to all your company’s resources, you should remember that this could lead some users down the wrong path. Always exercise caution before connecting end-users with remote resources. By following these tips, managers will have a much better handle on how they can best provide remote support without compromising security or stifling productivity.