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The COVID-19 pandemic initially forced millions of people to shift from office-based environments to home working, leaving many businesses scrambling to manage complex new workflows and the sudden demand for increased IT resources. 

Now that the UK is over nine months into its own battle with COVID-19, and halfway through its second national lockdown, business concerns pertaining to IT and technology is no longer about installing the right hardware and software, but about creating a long-term digital and modern workplace, which effectively sustains an ambient and efficient company culture.  

Due to the sudden switch to remote working, all the way back in March, employers soon had to understand the profound impact remote working had on those employees, many of whom had never worked from home before for such a great length of time. To make things worse, most companies had never experienced significant proportions of the workforce operating without critical daily meetings, check-ins, and in-person exchange of information.

This void was initially plugged with ad-hoc video conferencing chats, and an overload of new remote working software. Whilst these elements are all imperative to a remote working strategy, businesses are now in need of a more ‘durable’ solution to long-term remote working. After all, it is looking more and more likely for millions of companies that remote, or at least ‘hybrid’, working will become the new norm, even beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thus, adapting to a long-term remote working scenario requires a concerted effort to manage risks posed by the new working model. From cyber threats and downtime to service desk requests; the role of the IT department is now critical, and there are still a number of challenges that have gone comparatively ignored since the start of the pandemic, which must be resolved in order to help businesses on their modern workplace journey.

Training

Improving adaption and adoption rates of new technology amongst employees is just one of those challenges, and companies must seriously consider enlisting the services of a managed service provider (MSP) to provide the resources, time and aid to ensure staff are properly equipped with the skills to safely and proficiently handle new software and technology.

Additionally, now is the perfect time to retrain staff. With many currently furloughed, and at risk of redundancy in the long-term, employers need to support their colleagues to transition and reinvent themselves by providing L&D opportunities.

Some IT service packages can help provide the tools, resources, and training to manage this process without hindering everyday workplace activity.

Structure

A lack of structure is another core challenge. Without the need to commute, or the need to physically meet with colleagues, and due to personal commitments, such as childcare demands, many employees may have no choice but to work a different work pattern than the traditional ‘9 to 5’. Some may start work at 7am, while others may work until midnight, however all will require IT services and support at any moment to ensure work continuity, and that could place a huge burden on internal IT support teams.

In addition, now employees are in various locations, physical IT support is just not possible. To add to this, some employees may not be ‘tech-savvy’ enough to feel comfortable installing their own software, security or applications, putting even more pressure on IT teams. Subsequently, increased demand for service and limited supply, means employees are likely to encounter significant delays with IT support.

Therefore, MSPs need to be relied on to, quite simply, increase IT support manpower, offering assistance, training and support on a round-the-clock basis. Furthermore, they will assist in installing any new software or hardware that is rolled out, negating any user error issues which can, in turn, lead to delays or give rise to security weaknesses. Professionals in charge of your IT operations are always up to date on the latest technologies, developments, and processes to ensure that the network remains smooth and efficient in the future.

Accessing the right tools and advice

As we have all been made aware, business and tech trends can evolve very rapidly, especially during these unprecedented times. With the right IT service partner, businesses can ensure they always have access to the services and support that is required for their business needs. These dependencies will change based on the size of an organisation, how they operate, and the sector they operate in, and obtaining unbiased, tailored advice for tech services can be invaluable.

Finally, trusted IT service partners can often leverage procurement deals, allowing for much needed cost-saving deals which are perfect for limited tech budgets during this pandemic.

As we all adjust to this global remote work experiment, we will all have to adapt to new working norms. It is clear that remote working is here to stay and will become a bigger part of all our lives. By proactively supporting your employees in this transition you can ensure that both your employees and your business will thrive in the new world of work and the modern digital workplace.

Specialist IT service companies can lessen the burden on your in-house IT team and your business. Partnering with a trusted managed service provider can add flexibility to your IT services as you can pay for the services you need when you need them, and scale services up and down as required.

Guest post by Stuart Salt, Director of Services at Transputec