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Anthony Lamoureux: Rethinking IT Support in the post-COVID workplace

Anthony Lamoureux, Strategy and Development Director at Velocity Smart

The COVID-19 pandemic shook up business processes almost overnight, and as long as more pandemics remain a distinct possibility, we are not going back to the way things were. So, how do businesses establish a new ‘normal’ that turns the evolution in the way we work, into a clear advantage?

Take a moment to consider the approach of ServiceNow CEO, Bill McDermott, who is on a mission to make ServiceNow the ‘defining enterprise software company of the 21st Century’. McDermott argues that his organisation can take advantage of the changes of the post-COVID-19 world by driving for ‘everything as a service’ — subscription-based, centralised software and services that are available as and when you need them.

Nowhere is the ‘as a service’ model more relevant than with IT Support as businesses manage their remote workforce — even Google has announced its workforce will remain remote until July 2021.
We believe the days of IT Support-as-a-Service are just around the corner. The current system is simply not resilient, distributed, or flexible enough to adhere to COVID-19 workplace restrictions, and to support a long-term remote workforce. For example, a computer malfunction in the workplace may put an employee out of action for anything from a few hours to 2–3 days, while their unit is replaced with a spare — but if they’re miles away from an office even a simple swap-out can take much longer.

It’s time to rethink IT Support and address these challenges.

IT Support-as-a-Service – what are the options?
Downtime in IT is inevitable in a digital workplace, as devices naturally deteriorate over time, and research suggests that staff lose about 545 hours of productivity annually, through IT outages.
However, the paradigm of fixed resources working in fixed locations, supported by fixed IT support has been turned on its head by the COVID-19 pandemic. This throws up interesting questions for the future-proofing business leader:
– Do companies need fixed workforces, or is a gig-economy model going to be the new norm?
– Do businesses need expensive offices, when it’s been proven that large numbers of employees can work from home (and may even be more productive)? And what does this mean for IT support?
– Do companies need dedicated support resources? Or should they switch to mobile support hubs?
Whether companies choose a “man in a van” mobile IT support route, or use hybrid solutions like scheduling “drop-in days” at the office, we are in an era where reduced human contact is a necessity, and businesses need to implement new, more flexible, more convenient ways of supporting their remote workforce.

Implementing change is not just about doing it because you have to – smart businesses see change as a major opportunity, and those that change and adapt quickly to a post-COVID world will get a land grab of customers and market share. Businesses wanting to guarantee their success in this ‘new-normal’ landscape need to invest in flexible, scalable systemic changes that are more than simple quick-fixes that adhere to temporary lockdown restrictions.

Switching to IT Support-as-a-Service can do exactly that, ensuring businesses get 24/7 access to expert solutions, with minimal downtime — optimising operations beyond COVID-19.
A subscription-based service, from an IT team with a distributed network, eliminates the usual inconveniences of performing immediate maintenance or repairs on-site, through their “always on” solution.

Employees shouldn’t have to wait for repairs to their IT equipment — they should be able to get back up and running as soon as possible, saving the business time and money.

The need for contactless IT support
Businesses now need to maintain operations without the usual ready-help of on-site support teams contributing to their success. With remote work and social distancing being necessary for at least 18 months, the smart employers know that the only solution is to find new ways to keep their business operational.

When even the most inadvertent physical contact may put employees at risk, contactless IT support may be the perfect solution. This way, a company doesn’t take a knock through absorbing unnecessarily long downtimes, and employees stay safe.

By using smart lockers, it is possible to drop off broken equipment and pick up a loaned replacement in a safe, socially distanced manner. With a distributed network, employees could simply log their support request in their support portal and swap out their equipment at their closest hub — saving valuable time, resources and therefore – money.

Provide future-proofed service, today
With 73% of people in the UK believing that flexible working is the new normal, and future pandemics all but guaranteed, business leaders and IT directors need to ask themselves a few important questions.

Is their workforce sufficiently equipped for remote productivity? And what exactly is the new norm in the workplace? While the future remains uncertain, there are steps you can take to ensure your business remains resilient, and growing.

Making sure you have the tools you need to communicate and support staff, efficiently and safely, is key. COVID-19-safe working features must be built into operational foundations. A Smart Locker system not only provides contactless-IT support, but could also, with ITSM integration which is offered by some locker solution providers, enable asset quarantine management and also track anyone involved in the chain of drop-off, repair and return.

So, if someone that’s self-isolating due to infection needs IT support at that time, additional measures can be taken when cleaning their equipment to prevent cross-infection.

A fully integrated Smart Locker solution can make contactless, IT support-as-a-service a reality. Businesses should be able to deliver COVID-19-secure IT support, with the same frictionless service we’ve all come to expect in our personal lives.

A fully automated, end-to-end request fulfillment and integrated asset, Configuration Management Database (CMDB) and restock management is available now and means your business really can have it all – i.e. reduced support costs and increased profit through decreased downtimes, without contagion risk.

Now is the time for businesses to deliver COVID-19-secure IT support, with the same frictionless service we’ve all come to expect in our personal lives.

 

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