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    8 Remote Work Challenges for IT Teams and How to Fix Them

    For many organizations worldwide, remote work has become a mainstay, providing employees with flexibility during their working week and increased job satisfaction. However, this way of working presents a unique set of challenges for IT managers and their teams. 

    From collaboration barriers and fragmented communication to managing complex virtual environments, the growing trend for remote working has stretched IT infrastructures and teams to their limits.

    Despite these challenges, there is a silver lining.

    Studies and feedback from industry leaders suggest that IT teams can turn challenges into opportunities for improved efficiency and connectivity with the right tools and strategies.

    Platforms like Workwize are leading this shift in thinking, offering solutions specifically designed to streamline remote operations.

    In this article, we focus on actionable strategies and innovative tools that dramatically improve the management of remote employees without compromising security or productivity.

    Global IT Hardware Lifecycle Management. Anytime, Anywhere.

    IT teams across the globe use Workwize to automate their IT hardware lifecycle.

    The Impact of Remote Work on IT Teams

    IT teams are under pressure to meet support demands as more organizations pivot to fully remote or hybrid environments. According to research by Ivanti, the transition to remote work has significantly impacted IT workloads, with 56% of IT professionals reporting increased helpdesk ticket volume.

    This surge can largely be attributed to the challenges that flexible working conditions and requirements impose.

    From hardware procurement and delivery to managing network security, many issues and tasks have been introduced that did not exist when employees worked from the office.

    And the problem is being felt by the majority of IT professionals. A staggering 78% of IT workers believe the shift to remote working is responsible for increased support tickets and the subsequent pressure on teams to fulfill requests.

    Let’s look at some of the challenges IT teams face and the solutions that help ensure continuous support and enhance efficiency.

    Disruption of Traditional Communication Flow

    Do you remember the days of impromptu office meetings or on-the-fly discussions at the water cooler? Perhaps you haven’t yet shifted to remote working and still enjoy these informal interactions. In a conventional corporate setting where everybody has their own desk or office, communicating in this way helps enable swift issue resolution and fosters collaborative efforts among team members.

    However, when an entire organization operates remotely, how can IT teams effectively replicate the dynamics of traditional office communications? When people aren’t physically present in the office, users rely heavily on digital communication solutions to capture the immediacy and intimacy of face-to-face interactions. It’s up to IT teams to ensure these tools are not only available but that the infrastructure can support them across countries and time zones.

    Difficulty in Managing Remote IT Infrastructure

    Managing a remote workforce across a distributed IT infrastructure presents some formidable challenges. Cybersecurity threats, system and software updates, and hardware management are just some of the issues IT managers face daily.

    Ensuring each remote device is secure, updated, and running at optimal performance is critical to productivity and security.

    These challenges aren’t just hypothetical; they are reflected in the concerns of IT professionals worldwide.

    In 2023, a study found that 73% of global respondents were somewhat concerned about the online security risks associated with remote working. While this slightly decreased from nearly 80 percent in 2022, the concerns remain very high.

    Challenges with Collaboration and Team Cohesion

    Remote working arrangements have dramatically transformed team interaction and collaboration. Disparate teams spread across towns, cities, and continents can experience difficulties cultivating a sense of belonging and unity. This disconnect between coworkers can be reflected in reduced productivity, morale, and job satisfaction.

    Faced with these challenges, how can IT leaders effectively foster team spirit and a cohesive and collaborative team environment? Implementing the right solutions is imperative to ensure teams and individuals work effectively together, build rapport, and work towards common business goals.

    Inconsistent Access to Technology and Equipment

    One of the biggest challenges for IT teams managing remote workers is the inconsistencies in technology and equipment. For example, some employees may be asked to use their own IT equipment at home, while others may have access to a catalog of IT hardware. They may all use different software solutions or equipment, some with antivirus software and some left wide open to security risks. It all adds up to one big headache for IT leaders trying to keep on top of security, productivity, and uptime.

    The lack of uniformity in remote setups makes equipment vulnerable to attack or data breaches and exposes the entire network and organization to cyber threats. Team members' diverse locations further complicate this situation. To address these issues, IT teams must ensure that all team members are equipped with technology that meets a defined company standard.

    Increased Demand for IT Support

    IT teams familiar with supporting remote workers will also be familiar with the many and varied support requests that users raise daily.

    From faulty equipment and network latency to software issues, remote employees can experience a tonne of IT problems that are tricky to fix without direct access to equipment. The biggest challenge for IT teams is to fix these faults and solve problems promptly, reducing downtime and protecting productivity.

    Again, the lack of uniformity is the culprit here.

    Differing machine configurations and policies across the remote equipment estate can introduce complexity and increase resolution times. To solve the problem, IT teams must find a way to maintain consistent policy enforcement and standardization for all equipment and software.

    Variances in Work-from-Home Policies Impacting Standardization

    A disjointed work-from-home policy can significantly impact standardization across an organization. Without consistent and enforced policies and guidelines, employees may use unsecured networks or personal devices that lack necessary security measures. Inconsistencies can also lead to compliance issues, especially if sensitive data is mishandled. When your organization needs to comply with industry regulations such as HIPAA or GDPR, you can’t afford to take the risk.

    Irregular policies can create confusion among employees about best practices for software use and data handling. This lack of understanding and standardization not only risks the integrity and safety of data but can also result in hefty fines and reputational damage.

    Stress and Burnout Among IT Staff

    The myriad of remote working issues and the complexity of supporting a disparate and non-standard hardware estate can take their toll on IT staff. IT support teams may be buried under a deluge of support tickets, while IT leaders must be answerable to slow resolutions and continued problems with hardware or network connectivity. This can all lead to stress and burnout, low morale, and reduced productivity.

    To ease the burden and ensure IT teams can resolve problems swiftly, IT leaders must find ways to predict high demand, streamline support, and ensure their teams aren’t stretched to the limit.

    Impact on Hardware Management and Distribution

    Managing IT equipment for remote teams presents significant challenges. Determining the specific hardware needs of each remote employee is just the beginning; you need to ship the equipment and ensure it reaches its intended destination safely and securely.

    When shipping equipment internationally, you also need to navigate strict customs processes. All of these logistical layers can introduce complexity to your hardware distribution strategy, causing delays and preventing employees from doing their jobs.

    Furthermore, you need a way to provide support for these IT assets when hardware issues arise.

    Just one failed laptop could bring a project to a standstill until a replacement can be sourced.

    When you’re supporting international employees, getting replacements to their homes could take days.

    These logistical challenges strain IT resources and can frustrate employees and management.

    Exploring Solutions and Strategies to Remote Working Complexities

    Optimizing Community Tools and Protocols

    As we’ve already explored, remote working significantly reduces in-person interactions which can lead to challenges in communication and team dynamics. Fortunately, technology is catching up with the shortfall, helping teams facilitate real-time communication and collaboration.

    • Communication platforms: Tools like Slack allow real-time messaging and users to create channels for specific projects or topics, enabling quick exchanges much like in-office interactions.
    • Video conferencing tools: Platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams may not be new, but they have become essential platforms for maintaining communication and team cohesion.
    • Collaborative workspaces: Applications like Trello and Miro provide shared spaces for brainstorming, task management, and project planning. These tools keep teams on the same page and foster a sense of shared purpose.
    • Instant polling and feedback tools: From brainstorming a new product name to choosing a venue for a team meet-up, quick survey tools enable spontaneous polls and feedback sessions.

    When formulating software policies for remote users, consider which of these tools will be installed as standard for each user. This will ensure employees are up and running the moment their hardware is delivered to their homes.

    Strengthening IT Support for Remote Infrastructure

    Without direct access to hardware, IT teams need to have a robust remote support strategy in place. Just as hardware and software policies should be standardized throughout the organization, support policies and procedures should follow the same standardization. For example, all IT support teams should have access to remote access support tools that allow for swift and efficient support to remote employees, regardless of their location.

    Regular software updates and patch management are also important considerations that will help to ensure all hardware is secure, compliant, and performing at its best.

    Mobile device management (MDM) and unified endpoint management (UEM) tools allow IT teams to enforce security policies, install software, and wipe data remotely if a device is lost or stolen.

    Enhancing Collaboration with Better Tools and Platforms

    Today’s state-of-the-art collaborative tools and platforms are built with efficient and effective teamwork in mind. From chat and video tools to project-specific threads, deploying these tools ensures every team member is just a message away from getting the help or information they need.

    For more in-depth project management, consider Trello or Monday.com. These tools offer customizable timelines and boards that keep everybody aligned to one common goal. Despite the distance that might exist between teams, these tools bridge the gap to create a creative and productive work atmosphere.

    Equalizing Access to Technology

    Implementing standardized policy strategies is essential for ensuring every remote employee has equal access to the technology they need. For example, to streamline procurement you might consider creating a standardized hardware catalog that allows new and existing employees to select their required hardware from a pre-defined list. This not only makes employees feel valued but also standardizes the equipment used throughout the organization and ensures consistent service and support.

    Reviewing and Adapting IT Support Strategies

    Managing IT support for remote users, especially during systems outages and other periods of high demand, requires a proactive and adaptive approach. IT managers can leverage predictive analytics that analyzes usage patterns and historical data to stay on top of support requests and provide the best service. To effectively alert users about planned and unplanned outages and updates, consider implementing a centralized communication platform that sends real-time notifications to all users no matter what timezone they are on.

    Addressing Employee Well-being

    To avoid burnout among your IT teams, use predictive tools to anticipate demand and allocate sufficient resources when and where they are needed. This will not only improve well-being and morale but also ensure that your remote users get the best support and outcomes possible. If you don’t already, you might also consider allowing your IT teams to work remotely. After all, if they have no physical hardware to manage in the corporate office, they can enjoy the freedom and convenience of supporting users from their home office.

    Enforcing Policy Standardization

    Enforcing policy deployment, management, and standardization across an organization is vital to maintaining security and compliance. One way to ensure the unification of hardware and software configurations and settings is to use a centralized management platform. These platforms enforce security policies, manage system and software updates, and ensure that only approved applications are installed. When unauthorized changes could compromise your network and productivity, these systems are invaluable.

    Leveraging Smart Hardware Management Services

    When it comes to optimizing the hardware lifecycle, especially in remote work environments, Workwize automates and streamlines the entire process. From initial device deployment to eventual disposal, the platform provides a comprehensive approach to smart hardware management.

    Do you need to ship laptops around the world quickly and manage them from one place?

    Workwize reduces the logistical complexities of equipping remote teams with localized device deployment and hardware management services that put you in control. Book a demo today!

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