Adapting Your IT Service Desk for the Remote or Hybrid World

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While IT service desks now form the backbone of digital workplaces, organizations rarely designed them to operate remotely prior to the pandemic. However, with the inevitable rise of remote working, IT service desk analysts and the business consumers they served were forced to adjust their conventional support networks.

The pandemic has presented a great opportunity for infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders to escalate the IT service desk evolution, pushing for innovation and development. Even as we slowly return to offices, new IT service models will allow businesses to embrace the hybrid workplace of the future fully.

There are four main ways I&O leaders can approach the future, ensuring vital IT support channels remain open while service desks develop and adapt to evolving company needs.

Step 1: Provide Access to Remote Service Tools

In lockdown-type situations, where on-site collaboration is more complex – or impossible – IT service desks must be staffed in a new manner. Therefore, your main goal is to establish a remote version of your IT service desk analyst’s workstation.

For an IT service desk analyst to work remotely, they require:

  • Seamless ITSM tools – Typically, IT service management (ITSM) tools can be accessed remotely through the internet or VPN and hosted by SaaS. If your business is running older, on-premises ITSM tools, it’s vital to provide analysts with client software, establishing remote access.
  • Effortless communication between the business and consumer – This must include a direct phone line to the IT Service desk’s contact center and call queuing system. It must also offer access to any communication and collaboration tools used by the business.
  • Remote control and endpoint management tools – To support connectivity issues, remote control, diagnostic, identity access control, VPN and ZTNA tools are crucial. These should also be adapted according to each analyst’s area of expertise.

Step 2: Manage Service Expectations

Overall, IT support service-level agreements (SLAs) lack flexibility. Typically, high priority requests are given a target response and resolution time of one hour, while medium and standard requests are given four and eight hours, respectively.

Although resources are limited, business consumers using remote services and home-based equipment often require more support. However, with the increase in demand and limited staff availability, who are struggling to support unfamiliar applications and devices, SLA targets often aren’t met.

Instead of focusing on target resolution times, offer a new, temporary SLA describing the response strategy the I&O support organization will be taking.

Reconfirm and identify critical business functions and the IT services they use, clearly defining which business consumers will be using them.

Lastly, ensure that your IT service desk is fully briefed on this information and equipped to use it to prioritize incidents correctly and requests – whether they’re working remotely or in the office.

Step 3: Ease IT Service Desk Demand

Inevitably, introducing new services and technology brought a drastic increase in demand for IT support. While it might have spiked at the beginning of the pandemic, demand is still expected to be strong, especially as workers return to the office.

Providing multiple Level 1 contact channels for users – such as a live chat or email for low priority issues – is an efficient method to reduce demand on phone-based channels. In addition, this approach can aid in keeping phone lines clear for critical issues. They are also easier to access remotely.

You can relieve further pressure on the IT service desk by starting or accelerating Level 0 contact channel programs, such as self-service and peer support. A key benefit of peer support through a collaborative platform is that the entire organization has access to the question, responses and answers – it becomes a source of knowledge written in business language. This approach also eases the IT support teams’ demand by deflecting repetitive questions from Level 1 support.

Step 4: Think Long-Term and Plan Ahead

Think long-term and anticipate changes brought about by the changing work landscape. Ultimately, IT service desks will need to address the backlog of low-priority tickets that have been set aside – placing longer-term pressure on their capacity to address and keep up with incoming issues. Bring your own device (BYOD) will also become commonplace as flexible working becomes the norm.

This provides an excellent opportunity for businesses to introduce peer support initiatives, as employees will depend on alternative support channels when returning to the office and will likely become more self-sufficient in resolving IT issues when working remotely.

In the last few years, peer support channels have become the most popular support channels. However, I&O leaders have been slow to jump on the trend. Those who have already introduced collaborative support initiatives are significantly more prepared to deal with the pandemic’s effects. I&O leaders must embrace emerging trends by investing in collaborative features for ITSM and plan for impending shifts in business consumer needs when working with and accessing IT support.

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