9 Steps to Managing IT Support Challenges During a Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought remote work into focus across the world. An increase in the remote workforce has created capacity and skillset challenges in many organizations’ IT departments, inhibiting their ability to deliver and support rapidly changing business needs. The escalation of telecommuting has brought on an increasing demand on the business’s core network infrastructure, a significant surge in user support requirements, and opens new security threats.

IT-related Challenges during a pandemic

Here is a look at a few of the challenges faced by IT teams due to the rise of remote work brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • Providing network connectivity outside the office: Ensuring a secure and stable connection between the end-users and the network is a significant challenge. It is crucial for the IT departments to maintain a reliable and optimal network infrastructure to facilitate the increased load and new demands.
  • Providing end-user support remotely: The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to rapidly deploy new collaboration tools to facilitate communication with their customers and partners. With the unfamiliarity and lack of experience with these new tools and capabilities, end-users are being left frustrated and inevitability on the phone with the IT service desk. This influx of user support requests has internal IT departments spread extremely thin.
  • Managing the additional security risks of working remotely: Now that the critical business data is no longer kept within office walls, it poses an additional risk of data leakage, loss, or worse, theft. Many mid-market IT organizations are currently dealing with an increase in security incidents as their users are falling victim to the increased phishing and malware threats. 

The already strained IT department is having to deal with the increased infrastructure, user support, and security needs.

Managing IT needs during a pandemic

Here are some of our recommendations for running IT support during the coronavirus lockdown.

  1. Set up a crisis response team: Onboard people from across the organization to help brainstorm and execute new solutions and workarounds to the problems of working remotely. Ensure to include stakeholders from all departments and key business leaders who can prioritize needs for employees and customers.
  2. Prepare for diminished quality of service and interruptions: Even though remote work is slowly becoming relatively mainstream, wider use of bandwidth-intensive applications may cause latency or connection problems for users. Examples of this may include services such as video conferencing or real-time streaming large volumes of data.
  3. Plan for limited or no access to facilities: If a data center or operations center falls into a quarantine zone, businesses should immediately move all work to their disaster recovery site and prepare to conduct business off-premises. They should immediately contact the local health officials to ensure access to health and safety systems in the quarantined facilities. They should start closing off certain areas or allowing access for only critical personnel to work in the quarantined facility.
  4. Provision your teams with simple and secure remote collaboration tools: Employees aren’t necessarily careless, but they are known to try creative workarounds if the tools and processes they are provided with are not easy to use. Therefore it is important to make it easy for people to work remotely. Many companies are using remote collaboration tools like Slack, Zoom, Cisco WebEx, and Microsoft Teams. If not already in wide use, push the adoption of these tools. 
  5. Automate all repetitive business processes: Operating the IT department through traditional modes during a pandemic can lead to rising costs, slower turn around time, and lower efficiencies. A workflow automation software can be deployed for assets request and fulfillment, resolution of IT helpdesk tickets, access provisioning across apps, and employee onboarding and offboarding, thus removing bottlenecks and transforming the operational efficiency of your organization.
  6. Encourage self-service and minimize support requests: With an internal self-service portal, all employees can raise tickets, check ticket status, and refer the internal knowledge base for common issues. Organizations can also deploy an internal IT support Chatbot to provide contextual self-service help. AI Chatbots are available 24×7 and can troubleshoot common issues on the spot and get your employees unstuck without having them wait for human intervention. This can greatly free up your IT support staff’s time for the more important issues.
  7. Ensure hardware and network security with VPNs and firewalls: Laptops being used for remote work should have properly configured firewalls along with multifactor authentication, intrusion prevention, and anti-malware software installed. Businesses should also enhance their internal system monitoring capabilities to ensure they receive real-time threat detection alerts.
  8. Shutdown non-essential services: Businesses should identify and prioritize critical applications based on their level of importance and acceptable downtime and shut down those that are non-essential for transitioning to remote work. This frees up resources for other critical services. For example, IT support staff may be overwhelmed with workers needing assistance with remote technologies. Consider deploying a cloud-based helpdesk software, chat services, or an internal support chatbot where feasible. 
  9. Empathize with your employees: Some employees struggle more than others in adapting to the isolation of working from home. They may need more guidance, and encouragement. Empathy and patience are powerful leadership qualities during these times of crisis.

Pandemics are temporary, and we will get through it. IT staff play an essential job during moments of crisis. They are working late into the night to fix problems and develop scrappy solutions to help remote workers and customers stay connected and continue to be productive during extremely difficult times. Therefore it is important that they are armed with the best tools to provide exceptional support. 

Providing exceptional support is one of our core values at HappyFox. We offer a best-in-class IT ticketing system, knowledge base software, business process and workflow automation, and an enterprise-grade chatbot solution. Sign up for a demo to learn more about how HappyFox can help IT departments.

Jeethu Karthik

Product Owner at HappyFox