Who Do You Call for WFH Issues?

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These unprecedented times are causing anxiety for IT pros. The world’s largest work from home (WFH) experiment is underway, and IT pros face the unenviable task of ensuring the applications and systems running businesses are in tip-top shape and making sure the tools designed to make remote working possible for internal staff remain operational.

According to a recent survey, 65% of the companies surveyed in Hong Kong have already allowed their employees to work from home. However, only 8% of the respondents believed they were equipped with the technology infrastructure and equipment to support remote work.

Here’s how IT pros can ensure productive work from home experiences for employees:

Always be one step ahead

If they haven’t already, IT pros should begin forming a list of services experiencing high levels of demand from remote employees. For instance, IT pros can rightfully assume a surge in VPN usage capable of overwhelming the business network. Staff meetings and catch-ups will be also done online, raising performance concerns regarding the use of conferencing applications.

In short, anticipate and prepare for the worst. Here are some areas where IT pros should be vigilant:

  • Track scalable service costs
    Keep an eye on any “as a service” functions, particularly those capable of auto-scaling to demand, like cloud services. Double-check and understand the cost implications of higher traffic volumes and data interactions to prevent unpleasant future surprises in the form of sky-high charges.
  • Check licenses
    Most digital tools, especially ones facilitating online collaboration, allow a limited number of users per license. To prevent disruption of workflows and complaints from teams, IT pros should examine licensing limitations proactively — particularly if those teams adopted the tools without the IT pros’ knowledge.
  • Be prepared for latency
    Though they may not have control over video conferencing services, IT pros can expect a flurry of emails or complaints regarding service performance. Managing this requires IT pros to remain vigilant over the status of these services through their websites or social handles and to communicate updates with frustrated teams. For example, IT pros can use SolarWinds tools to quickly troubleshoot issues with increased collaboration system load because of remote work.
  • Automate wherever you can
    The added pressure of managing more devices across multiple environments means IT pros have little time left for crucial tasks like monitoring. To compensate, IT pros should adopt a measure of automation to identify threats, highlight issues, and notify IT teams with minimal intervention. Implementing self-service capabilities can help remote users gain access to the information they need in an instant, giving IT service desk professionals time to focus on more complex tasks.
  • Switch to the right tools
    IT pros can adopt remote management tools for troubleshooting, adopt better network performance monitoring tools capable of giving them visibility over external devices, and implement security and VPN monitoring measures to combat new threat vectors.

WFH vigilance

As IT pros adapt their digital stack, they must do so primarily from a security standpoint. This is because any device connected to the business network could become a potential vector of attack at any given time. The sheer number of variables involved when talking about external devices would dismay any cybersecurity expert. IT pros should ensure security and vigilance are at the heart of any work from home policy or solution.

IT pros should already have fundamental cybersecurity measures (like user permissions, device access management, mandatory two-factor authentication, VPN, and deep network monitoring) in place. If they don’t, now’s the second-best time to institute these measures. IT pros can tap into free vendor services — eliminating the need for time-consuming budget approval — to step up their cybersecurity profiles and protect against data breaches and cyberattacks.

Keep calm and carry on

There are other things IT pros can do besides technical support to make the work from home experience smooth. For starters, they can publish “good practices” guidelines offering detailed instructions on how to connect periphery devices or advising people to do things like avoid bandwidth-heavy streaming or downloads during video conferences. IT pros can also provide value and ease anxiety by setting up corporate chat rooms for staff with popular chat services like Slack.

Like everyone else, IT pros need time to readjust to the new work reality and the challenges accompanying it. Doing so methodically — and sensibly — will improve the odds of them coming out triumphantly on the other side.

Leon Adato, Head Geek at SolarWinds wrote this article. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of HR&DigitalTrends. Photo credit: iStockphoto/Rawpixel