The number of employees working remotely within the UK has grown significantly in recent years, largely due to the impact of Covid-19 and the subsequent national lockdowns. According to a study by the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data, remote working was relatively rare in 1981 when only 1.5% of those in employment worked mainly from home. By 2019 it had tripled to 4.7%, however, it rose suddenly and dramatically in lockdown with just over 43% of employees working almost always working remotely.
With 36% of working adults reporting that they have worked at home at least once over a 7 day period in January 2022, there has emerged a significant requirement for employers to ensure that their staff can fulfil their roles to the best of their ability outside of the office or other traditional work environments. With the remote working trend likely to continue long after the impact of Covid-19 has diminished, employers must be able to provide a high standard of IT support services for staff working from home and other spaces outside of official company premises.
Key areas that employers need to consider when accommodating the requirements of remote workers include the following.
Ensure remote workers can get technical issues fixed by a remote IT support team
If large sections of your team are not office based, it’s unlikely that you will be able to provide onsite IT support for every issue that they encounter. You need to ensure that you have a good system in place for responding to their issues quickly and fixing the problem remotely, wherever possible. If your business serves customers from around the world, then you may need to consider providing a multi-lingual remote IT support department.
Ensure that your remote team can access IT support 24/7
If a high percentage of your staff do not work regular 9 to 5 office hours, it’s important that they are able to access help and fix IT issues whenever they occur. If you are unable to establish an in-house 24/7 IT team, consider outsourcing support to a dedicated managed IT support company. This will ensure that staff working from home late at night or operating in different time zones are not prevented from meeting important deadlines or delivering solutions to customers.
Ensure that you can deal with local emergencies experienced by remote workers
Whilst most issues can be resolved remotely, occasionally an onsite visit is the only option for resolving urgent issues faced by staff working remotely. You, therefore, need to ensure that you can facilitate a response to any emergencies occurring no matter where in the country, or the world, they happen. One way to do this would be to work alongside multiple local IT support providers based on the locations of your remote staff. This might work for smaller businesses, however, for larger and more complex operations you should consider hiring a local managed services provider (MSP), one that can leverage network connections to ensure onsite support is provided quickly no matter where in the world your staff are based.
Ensure that strong security standards and procedures are implemented
Never assume that staff working remotely are not a threat to your central systems. Without carefully considered security procedures and solutions in place, staff may attempt to access company files from unprotected or public networks potentially compromising sensitive data and information. Important steps to ensure that staff can work safely whilst remote include the following:
- Mandating Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
- Mandating strong passwords and user access protocols
- Limiting access to sensitive files and directories
- Providing training and support on common security risks such as phishing attacks
- Setting up a VPN network
- Setting up systems to ensure that security software on devices used to access company information is kept up to date
- Implementing a cloud-based mobile device management (MDM) service such as Microsoft Intune.
Ensure you have considered the bigger picture for remote working staff
It’s not enough just to provide a solution for fixing IT issues for your remote staff. You need to ensure that your business can continue to operate well in the face of bigger systemic issues such as server failures. Backup server maintenance, temporary systems, and devices for both your office-based and remote staff all need to be considered to assure uninterrupted productivity and business continuity.
The help4IT advantage: providing specialist support for remote working staff
With our extensive global partner network, the help4IT team provide emergency support for our clients that have operations in multiple countries and remote staff working in varied locations. We have also assisted countless businesses to migrate to a platform that offers best in class security provision for both office-based and remote working team members.
To find out more about how we can help you, please get in touch.