Remote IT’s future: Key lessons learned from this WFH era

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Remote IT remains a strategy for many businesses moving forward. Greg Bentham, vice president, North American Cloud Infrastructure Services, provides his perspective to CIO Magazine.

While remote IT proved its effectiveness as an emergency tactic at the start of the pandemic, the circumstances created a major transformation requiring many firms to rely solely on remote IT support while employees worked from home. Its reliability over the past six months has shown corporations that long term, remote support can continue. It provides employees with more flexibility, job rotation opportunities and can create office space savings for businesses. Given these factors, we see remote IT remaining a strategy for many businesses moving forward.

Productivity: on-site vs remote teams

Remote IT staff can prove more productive than an on-site team, as they can service multiple locations and appropriately prioritize the work for a larger group of end users.  Remote resolution rates can typically out-perform on-site support as long as the knowledge and accesses provided are the same. Obviously, there some activities that are not possible to be run remotely like hardware replacement or diagnostics requiring physical contact with the infrastructure.

A top challenge though for remote teams is ensuring people are learning new skills as they did in the office while working closely with more senior colleagues sitting next to them.  There is also a need to ensure people still feel integrated with the team and connected to the company. Obviously, there is no branding of a company on a wall at someone’s home – but organizations must develop ways to keep employees integrated with the company, its values, mission, customers and priorities through methods like video conference calls, intranet sites and remote working newsletters.

Collaboration tools and remote people management methods have been enhanced with our number of conference calls and video meetings significantly increasing. There already was a strong focus and discipline established that required regular objectives setting and progress verification to make sure with limited face to face supervision, employees keep developing and that they are completing their tasks with expected productivity and quality.  Companies should also frequently reach out to all employees with guidance for working remotely and offer flexible work schedules to accommodate working from home.

Evaluating performance

Most organizations measure remote IT worker performance with the same metrics they use to evaluate their on-site staff. At Capgemini, a few of the metrics that we measure are the speed to answer, response time, and resolution time. Bentham says, “We also perform random quality audits, conduct customer satisfaction surveys and user experience evaluations to analyze how well our remote IT staff is performing.”

Security first

Security is a necessity, and can be a competitive advantage, rather than a drawback, especially when there is a shift in the playing field, such as moving to work from home. Organizations that have a large remote workforce must assess security policies, and make sure that all users who previously worked in an office are now covered by a redefined set of cybersecurity controls for remote work. This could mean taking on a data-protection – virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) or mobile devices management (MDM) – or identity access management (IAM) approaches versus the standard assignment of corporate assets.

Slouching toward automation

Some observers feel that remote IT could serve as a key stepping stone toward the goal of creating an unstaffed, automated IT data center. “A fully automated IT environment is relative, not absolute,” Bentham says. “One thing is for sure: a traditional monitoring center with all the dynamic screens is a thing of the past.”

Infrastructure is becoming invisible, like electricity, Bentham observes. It is simply expected to work. Achieving this, allows for redirection of focus to the business applications where true support of a digital agenda is realized.

Regardless of whether a business and their IT team is fully automated, leveraging AI or even NoOps, or getting started, the destination is the same – underpin the human element. Remote IT is still a human effort – albeit more consolidated. “The priority is to automate as much as possible, thereby allowing IT professionals to use their talents to manage the business of IT versus performing day-to-day operations,” he explains.

Read the full article from CIO Magazine

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