Managing Disruptions in a Remote Environment

Many things can disrupt employees’ performance and productivity when working from home or another remote environment.  It might be a child or a pet wandering into the home office and demanding attention, or a loud conversation from an adjacent table at a coffee shop in the morning.

Handling these types of disruptions is up to the individual worker. But there are many technology issues that require the attention of IT professionals, including:

• Devices. Is the remote worker using a laptop, tablet or smartphone with the power and ability to access the organization’s network, data and applications?

• Broadband. Does the remote worker have adequate bandwidth to support video, data and voice collaboration applications?

• Software. Is the remote worker running the latest operating system on his or her device?

• Applications. Are the organization’s applications configured for multiple devices and operating systems?

• Security. Could a criminal disrupt a session, impersonate the user or gain access to the network via a user’s device?

• Education and training. Does the user know how to use the device and application effectively?

Management Strategies

Determining the cause of the problem is the first step toward effective management of disruptions in a remote environment.  There are several ways to diagnose IT problems so that the appropriate corrective measure can be taken.

One tool is to maintain a log or a spreadsheet tracking the technology problems that affect your remote workforce. For instance, several workers in the same neighborhood might have similar connectivity problems, particularly in rural locations.   Or you might notice that a high percentage of workers are not taking advantage of a new feature, indicating the need for education or training.

Network monitoring tools are also essential for identifying service outages, as well as alerting you to potential security threats such as intrusion attempts or repeated attempted log-ins from user whose identification may have been compromised.

Your help desk can also provide valuable insights regarding problems facing your remote workforce. The support team should be encouraged to take a proactive role, as well as listening to users’ issues. Asking an individual about devices, configurations and applications may provide clues to broader issues affecting your organization.

Automated provisioning and self-service tools can go a long way toward preventing many types of basic disruptions, while delivering a consistent user experience regardless of device.  

Long-term solutions

Because of the importance of supporting the remote workforce, IT professionals should also think about long-term strategies to reduce the risks associated with recurring disruptions. In fact, that is one of the most important reasons for migrating some or all of the network infrastructure to the cloud.   

Giving user the ability to access data and applications from a cloud-based infrastructure can remove the network and connection issues associated with on-premise solutions.  While the cloud isn’t the answer to every IT issue associated with remote workers, making the transition can take simplify the diagnostic and treatment process when disruptions do occur.

Other ways to manage disruptions purchasing company laptops or tablets for remote workers. Users can benefit from a consistent at-home platform, while IT managers can focus on one set of features and applications, including greater visibility and faster responses to security threats. IT professionals should also pay attention to bandwidth issues, and work with their business partners to find solutions for remote workers in hard-to-reach locations.

Managing disruptions in the remote environment will be important throughout 2021 and the years ahead. Deploying the right tools and providing the right support to remote workers is an essential step for organizations striving to deliver best-in-class service to their customers.

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