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Virtual Work Brings Remote IT Support Challenges

Recurring issues strain IT staffs while long waits frustrate users.
Remote IT Support

(February 23, 2021) Virtual or remote work is here to stay, but remote IT support remains a vexing issue for the millions of Americans working from home at least part of the time.

“Because they are no longer working with office technology that is regularly maintained by in-house IT staff, remote workers often encounter technology issues they can’t resolve themselves,” said Mark McClelland, co-founder and vice president of Mainstream Technologies.

The average remote worker has experienced 230 tech problems trying to do their job from home over the past year, according to a OnePoll survey. Getting help for those issues can be frustrating, other surveys show. Nearly half of remote workers in the U.S. report they’ve had to wait at least three hours or more to resolve an IT issue, according to the market research firm Omnisis. About 60 percent report having a negative experience with the IT department when seeking remote support.

Paradigm Shift

“In many ways, recurring tech issues and long wait times simply illustrate the degree to which IT support processes have been designed for in-house staff and company-owned systems,” McClelland said. “Keeping remote technology up and running is a unique challenge because many aspects are out of IT’s direct control. The PCs, laptops, printers, wireless routers and other gear being used at home lack the standardized configurations that IT is accustomed to and are seldom maintained properly.”

In fact, IT staffers may have little to no knowledge of much of the technology being used by at-home workers. According to Gartner’s 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey, more than half of respondents reported that they use applications or web services that they personally obtained.

“When organizations were forced to go remote in early 2020, workers started to rely on their own devices or programs they discovered themselves to make up for their employers’ technology shortcomings,” said Whit Andrews, distinguished research vice president at Gartner.

To support work-from-home operations, organizations must have the capacity to remotely resolve a broad range of issues that can derail remote work. Some of the common support requests from remote workers include:

  • Network access. Remote employees often need help installing, configuring and troubleshooting VPN technology for accessing the company network.
  • Cloud support. Setting up profiles and permissions for accessing cloud-based applications and services typically require the assistance of the IT department.
  • Security. Installing and configuring client security software to comply with company policy is typically beyond the capabilities of the end-user, requiring a call to the IT department.
  • Conferencing and collaboration. Teleworkers often need help with webcams or digital cameras, microphones and speakers, video cards and client software.

The manpower and expertise required to provide such support put an additional burden on small to midsized businesses (SMBs). More than 80 percent of SMBs do not have an actual IT staff, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Instead, these organizations may rely on one “IT person” — a generalist who handles everything from setting up the network and updating software to resetting passwords and maintaining printers.

Managed Services Advantages

Going forward, businesses of all sizes will need qualified IT experts with specialized skill sets to support hybrid environments encompassing in-house and remote technology. Forward-thinking organizations are developing relationships with managed services providers (MSPs), leveraging the MSP’s expertise to augment company IT staff.

“In addition to handling basic IT functions such as maintenance, updates, security patching and more, MSPs typically offer network monitoring and maintenance as well as more specialized services such as managed security and help desk support,” McClelland said. “An MSP can also provide remote workers with on-call expertise, further augmenting the capabilities of the in-house IT generalist.”

The shift to virtual working requires a new approach to IT support. Addressing the needs of an increasingly flexible workforce requires an agile IT staff who can rapidly resolve a wide range of issues. For most companies, a managed services arrangement will provide the ideal mixture of availability and expertise.

ABOUT MAINSTREAM TECHNOLOGIES

Mainstream Technologies delivers a full range of technology services in Arkansas and the surrounding region including managed technology services and consulting, custom software development, and cybersecurity services. We also offer industry-leading data center services in our Little Rock facilities. Established in 1996, Mainstream has earned a reputation for delivering quality, reliable, and professional technology services for public and private-sector customers across the United States.

Jeff Pracht
IT Business Development Manager
(479) 715-8629 Office
(501) 529-0008 Mobile

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