The Work From Home Future: Ensuring IT Support for Remote Workers

IT Support For Remote Workers

Work from home is here to stay. And for businesses that haven’t yet adapted their IT infrastructure in response, now is the time to make the adjustments that are needed to provide ample IT support for remote workers.

According to recent Pew Research Data, roughly 35% of workers with the option to do their job from home are choosing to work fully remotely. An even larger number are working hybrid schedules, spending either most or some of their time at home versus the office.

Of course, work-from-home staff require more than just a working internet connection in order to do their jobs. The longer that workers stay at home, the more important it becomes for businesses big and small to develop an IT infrastructure that supports remote work. This includes dedicated IT resources for remote connectivity and collaboration, as well as reliable tech support for all workers, regardless of where they are.

Below, we’re taking a look at some of the key elements of remote work IT support, with helpful tips that can help businesses adapt to this evolving environment.

Remote Work and the Future of IT

What does it take to adapt IT support for remote workers? Flexibility, for starters, and a willingness to rethink IT strategies in a way that benefits workers both in the office and out. As we set our sights on the role of IT in facilitating remote work, here are the infrastructure transformations that need to take place in order to keep everyone on the same page.

Enhanced Remote Collaboration

Just because remote workers aren’t in the office doesn’t mean they aren’t an integral part of day-to-day operations.

In a 2020 study, project managers noted miscommunication, lack of team visibility, and task management as the biggest work-from-home challenges. These challenges are further complicated by staff members working in different time zones or at different hours of the day.

Effective remote work IT support necessitates a wide range of connection-based tools that solve these challenges and enhance remote work capabilities. These include cloud-based services and chat tools, plus team management software that makes it easy to track progress and keep projects moving through the pipeline.

For businesses sticking with remote and hybrid work, these tools have to be scalable and secure enough to maintain for the long haul. They should also have built-in accountability tools that allow project managers to not only facilitate collaborative work but to see what’s happening in real time.

Virtual Tech Support

When it comes to tech support, small business IT infrastructure must include solutions for troubleshooting products and ensuring everyone can access what they need when they need it. This means having IT support available for both acute technical emergencies and routine maintenance, with responsibilities that cover everything from training and integration of new products to management of remote software updates.

Depending on a company’s size and budget, outsourced IT services can be hugely helpful in making this happen, providing on-demand IT support for remote workers without the need for an in-house team. And whatever the tech support solution in place, it’s essential to have a designated point of contact for IT issues so that remote workers know exactly who to call when they’re in need of assistance.

Proactive Cyber Protections

There are some unique cybersecurity risks involved in remote work, all of which need to be accounted for when designing IT infrastructure.

Things like increased use of cloud-based services, widespread sharing of company data, and employee use of unsanctioned tech all open the doors to costly problems – including data breaches and ransomware attacks. And while a business should certainly have plans in place for what to do in the face of a security crisis, it also needs to be proactive with its security measures to prevent crises from occurring in the first place.

On the technology front, this requires standardized protocols such as multi-factor authentication and data encryption. Monitoring tools should be used as well to track what’s happening on a company’s network and catch problems at their earliest stages.

Key to all of this is having an engaged IT support team with their eyes on all possible endpoints. In this way, businesses can address some of the inherent vulnerabilities of remote work tech and let staff members retain remote status without compromising the organization at large.

Cloud Connectivity

You can’t talk about remote work without talking about the cloud. Most remote teams are highly reliant on cloud-based services for user access, data protection, and file storage. Cloud services also provide a secure, centralized point from which all remote work gets done. As such, IT infrastructure must not only support cloud-based services but also cloud usage across the board.

For businesses that are thinking ahead with their IT infrastructure, it’s crucial to consider what cloud solutions will support their needs and how they can protect data as this cloud network expands. Ultimately, most (if not all) of the connectivity and collaboration tools needed for remote work will be rooted in the cloud, so the sooner an organization can integrate it into its system, the better off it’ll be.

Remote Device Management

If you’re only considering IT infrastructure as it applies to employee laptops, you’re not thinking big enough. Many remote employees are utilizing multiple devices to get work done and keep in contact with their teams, including personal smartphones and tablets. And wherever there’s company data, there’s a need for IT support to manage it.

Effective remote device management takes into account the realities of multi-device use among remote workers. It also provides a centralized solution for accommodating these devices, with pre-set plans for remote troubleshooting and software updates.

Keep in mind that comprehensive device management includes the ability to access, monitor, and even remotely control any devices in your network. Businesses will have to choose between allowing remote employees to use personal devices with management software, or to supply the devices for operational use. The former may be more cost-effective, but it may also leave a few compromisable gaps in security.

IT Infrastructure Scalability

As a business grows its remote workforce, it also grows its IT infrastructure needs.

An IT support team can guide businesses on exactly what they need to do in order to get their infrastructure to scale. Recommendations may include expanded server capacity and a larger allocation of resources toward remote management and security.

In addition to scalability, remote IT infrastructure has to be flexible. This allows it to scale down as seamlessly as it scales up, minimizing wasted resource costs and consumption, and closing unmonitored access points. Sometimes, it will be as simple as scaling up or down memory and storage capacity. Other times, scaling IT infrastructure for remote workers will be a complex job with tough technical requirements. In either case, the option always needs to be available – and someone has to be there to get it done.

How to Prepare Your IT Infrastructure for the Remote Work Future

It’s not always possible to predict what your IT infrastructure needs will be from one year – or even one quarter – to the next. However, if your business is committed to a remote or hybrid work model, then thinking ahead is always your best bet.

Here are some things that small businesses in particular can start doing to shore up their IT infrastructure and ensure they’re investing in the right technologies for their remote workforce.

  • Define roles – This is not a one-person or one-department job. Create a core team of decision-makers to oversee IT infrastructure changes, and clearly define everyone’s roles and responsibilities.
  • Set a budget – Decide how much your business can afford to spend on remote work software apps and tools. Consider both upfront costs and monthly or yearly fees when setting your remote IT support budget. Pay close attention to included features, too, since you don’t want to be spending money on capabilities you don’t intend to use.
  • Ask for input – Nobody knows what it takes to be productive when working remotely better than your remote workers themselves. Talk to employees to get an idea of what challenges they’re facing so that you can invest in technology that meets those challenges head-on.
  • Bring in IT experts – You don’t need a full-time IT team on the payroll. Experienced IT consultants can guide your infrastructure improvements and help you integrate new tools, onboard and train remote staff, monitor activity, and keep your system secure.
  • Be adaptable –  Use employee feedback and in-app analytics to determine what’s working and what’s not for your remote workforce, and be prepared to make changes to your IT infrastructure when warranted.

The future of remote work success at your business depends on the quality of your IT support efforts. At Computer Resources of America, we have the skills and experience you need to build confidence in your IT infrastructure, with a complete range of IT services that includes cloud solutions, staffing, consulting, and comprehensive managed IT support. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for your small business, and how we can help you create a remote work environment where your employees can really thrive.

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