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IT from Home: Prepare your IT Infrastructure for the new normal

IT from Home: Prepare your IT Infrastructure for the new normal

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by Bharat S Raj — 5 months ago in Future 4 min. read
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As the spread of COVID-19 continues to surge, many organizations have asked employees to work remotely. With an uncertainly of when things would return to normalcy, WFH is expected to be the new normal and standard practice.

The idea of “working from home” (WFH) was reserved for writers, artists, and other siloed professions that didn’t rely much on regular collaboration.

However, now businesses have realized that with the power of technology, WFH can become the standard practice.

Supporting a fully remote workplace, at least at this scale, is new to many businesses. Leaders must weigh when making the call to move to a remote model is whether their IT infrastructure will support business continuity.

The agility of organizations is being tested in ways that we have rarely seen before. This is a classic black swan event, a high-impact, hard-to-predict, rare event, unfolding, and the acid test for all business continuity plans.

Support

One of the areas to focus on is how to scale and communicate support across multiple regions, platforms, and channels. As more employees begin working remotely, the support structures they rely on become more critical.

Day-to-day operations for most organizations depend on IT, and the service desk is defending the front lines. Remote employees need support, perhaps now more than ever.

They need access to software, applications, and unfamiliar technology infrastructure (their home). In many cases, they need equipment from quarantined buildings, they are installing brand new equipment, or they are connecting to older equipment in their homes

Response is short-term; preparation is long-term. If you’ve IT teams have spent weeks procuring equipment, testing networks, and responding directly to users, you’re not alone. But much of the important preparation happens organically, over a long period.

The number of tickets raised has seen a large influx for help desks all over the world, especially in organizations shifting suddenly to remote work.

And, while it may seem obvious, it’s worth noting that a single portal for IT tickets is crucial, especially in the unique circumstances presented by sudden remote work.

If your organization doesn’t have a self-service mechanism to raise tickets or handle automation, then you’re trouble in big trouble during these troubled times. It’s important to focus on user experience more than before.

A complex automation/AI project may not be the solution to your problem to manage IT Support. It can be as simple as mentioning the support contact details on your service portal or providing the right information.
Also read: The more common types of Commercial Insurance

Security

Cybercriminals see a crisis as an opportunity. Major change brings disruption, and businesses transitioning to working from home arrangements can be an attractive target.

When working from home, organizations must find a way to secure data and handle sensitive client. E.g. Many offices don’t allow smartphones at employee desks during work hours.

How do you control that at home? If the data were to get in the wrong hands, that could spell trouble not just for the company but for the individual whose data was leaked.

Due to the unpreparedness, some companies have adopted the concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). The use of personal devices creates problems around document preservation matters and adds increased risk.

When was the last time, you updated the software on your personal PC? Does it have up-to-date anti-virus software? If you’re working on a family computer, data security may be even harder to obtain, since the habits of other people in the house also affect your work’s sensitive data.

Thus, BYOD such as personal laptops or mobile devices must be vetted from the security standpoint using NAC, NAP platforms. (e.g. patch check, configuration check , AV check etc.).

Information Security is key and some of the standard best practices include:

  • Don’t use public WiFi – ensure that you are connected to VPN
  • Update Network security and keep your device up-to-date
  • Encrypt Sensitive Data in Emails and on Your Device.
  • Keep Work Data on Work Computers.
  • Enable multifactor authentication
  • Avoid phishing emails

While a lot of these steps can be taken by the individual worker, companies should enact policies and take measures to further shore up their remote employees’ defenses.

Most employees would be aware of these however, it’s important to communicate these to employees more often than more. Training is key to ensure data security, and this must be one of the key areas to focus.

Measure

These are the times where we need to be ready to think differently about how we do business, while also carefully measuring the health of the business. Ensure that the cash flow doesn’t stop.

These are tough times for everyone and ensure that your revenue streams continue to flow.

In an office, it’s easy to find out who is working or not with the physical presence. However, in a WFH scenario, it has become difficult to track this.

While most research shows that the employees who work from home tend to be happier, less stressed, and more productive, it’s important to measure this over time.

Employees may have started work for more hours and in the long run, this can affect the mental health and stress and lead to burnout.

Monitoring employee workloads helps you proactively identify when your employees are taking on an unsustainable amount of work, so you can work with them to achieve a better balance.

Workload monitoring is also a good way to notice when you’re running some inefficient or unproductive processes.

For example, if you notice that your employee workloads are constantly unbalanced, it could be a sign that your task distribution system isn’t efficient.

If you notice that one of your busiest employees also has one of the smallest workloads, it could be a sign that they aren’t spending their time wisely.

How can you track and manage productivity?

  • Track Email Metrics: Email is a fantastic telltale of the amount of work someone is managing at any given time.
  • Time tracking: Employee productivity tracking tool to keep tabs on how your employees are spending time throughout the day. These tools usually encourage your employees to start and stop a built-in timer, as appropriate, whenever they begin a new task.
  • Project Management Apps: Project management apps come in many different varieties, but they all have the same purpose: helping your business manage, organize, and assign tasks related to various projects.
Also read: Best Ways for Project Managers to Prepare for VR Project Development

There are a lot of tools in the market that helps achieve these. From an IT standpoint, it’s important to implement these in the right way in order to support your employees working from home.

We have a huge group of people that have never worked from home before, and IT needs to play a role in making them comfortable.

Bharat S Raj

Bharat S Raj is an Independent Technologist, blogger, data enthusiast, and traveler from Kochi, India. He works as an IT Manager at Sutherland, a process transformation organization. He is also a Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect and a ServiceNow Certified Implementation Specialist (APM).

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