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Remote work has been steadily gaining in popularity for years, as employers value its flexibility and possible efficiency. Even before the pandemic response, nearly 4.7 million employees nationally were working from home.
However, as our country begins to reopen slowly, many are headed back to work and should be wondering if their current IT provider can support their SMB (small to medium-sized business) needs.
Keep in mind; your technology needs have most likely shifted since the COVID-19 takeover. How can you be sure that your current IT team is ready and able to address your new and increased business demands?
IT support is something that has never been so relevant and needed than right now. Although many are returning to work, others remain working remotely from their homes.
The diversity of where your employees are located makes your IT team even more critical. They’re now faced with managing two distinct types of employees, ones in-house, and one virtually.
To efficiently adjust and manage all your information technology systems, networks, and platforms, it’s imperative to partner with a trusted information technology provider or team of IT experts to walk you through your new IT journey.
Follow along as we take a closer look at some top questions and considerations you should be thinking about to ensure all the technology needs of your employees and customers are met. Not to mention, learning the importance of proactive planning, in case something like this happens again.
Don’t Settle: Does Your Technology Provider Support, New And Current Needs?
As I mentioned earlier, we’re now seeing a change in where our employees are located and how they access their technology equipment (such as printers or phones).
It’s essential to keep in mind that whether you rely on an in-house IT guy, or outsource your IT services, that your IT support feels like a partnership. A great IT partnership should demonstrate proactive planning and should take the time to listen to your current IT struggles.
You’ll know you have a great IT team if they provide you with tools, resources, and support that makes your job easier. It’s actually a pretty simple concept!
Does Your Current IT Team Provide Proactive Maintenance and Planning?
When an IT issue occurs, it can range from mildly annoying (such as a password reset) to something extremely catastrophic (like a long-term email outage).
Having an IT support team that can respond quickly is a huge benefit. However, what if you could have a team in place that can get started on identifying and fixing a problem before your employees (in-house or remote) even knew there was a problem?
More common than not, there’s an overwhelming amount of IT support that is solely reactive, which means only responding to requests for assistance when a problem appears.
Also, when it comes to remote work support, it helps to have an information technology provider that can offer proactive support, anticipating problems before they occur, and offering seamless solutions with minimal disruption to operations.
By partnering with an IT provider with remote monitoring capability, you enable that provider to address and fix issues in an instant.
Your employees have a lot on their plates. They are already attempting to transition to new practices and habits with remote work. Proactive IT support helps your entire team focus on building these new habits, without having to worry about computers, phones, or copier issues.
Like anything in like, reacting leads to delays. Whereas proactive approaches and continual maintenance allows more productivity for employees to focus on their jobs, not their tech problems.
Does Your IT Provider Offer Multiple Communication Channels?
When working remotely, your employees won't be able to take a quick trip down the hall to chat with your IT guy when their internet goes down. Even if you’re at the office, we still are required to social distance as best we can. So, a contactless communication system is most suitable for all employees.
Your team members will need to connect with IT support remotely, using channels that are reliable, effective, and easily accessible. These channels could mean communicating through phone, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), email, direct messaging, video conferencing, or live chat.
It’s necessary that your IT provider can quickly connect with all of your team members in a way that works best for them—ensuring immediate access whenever IT support is needed the most.
How Well Does Your IT Team Understand Video Conferencing?
Video, video, video! We can’t stress it enough—especially during these strange times. With traditional face-to-face meetings currently not an option for many organizations, the demand and use of video for conferences and meetings has quickly elevated.
Video conferences enable companies to schedule virtual face-to-face meetings, not to mention meetings with customers or prospects. Using video is a cost-efficient way for so many companies to maintain contact and collaboration.
It wouldn't be surprising if many companies continue to use video conferencing as a meeting solution even after all stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders are lifted.
We can speak first-hand by saying that although many of us are physically at the office, we are continuing to use video more than ever. Trust me; video conferencing is here to stay.
Because video is such a powerful tool, any IT service provider will need to understand how to troubleshoot issues related to video conferencing and collaboration.
A great IT team will be ready to handle frequently asked questions as well as commonly encountered problems. Your IT team should be familiar with the type of video conferencing platform you use and how to manage it.
More employees engaging in remote work will continue to look to video conferencing as a communication tool. As this new reality continues, IT providers will have to be ready to address video-related problems.
Can Your IT Provider Keep Your Systems Secure?
Remote work provides one great advantage to employees in that it allows them to work from home. This eliminates their daily commute and enables them to spend more time with their families.
However, with every positive comes a negative. This also means employees are relying on their home internet setups to maintain connectivity—which can introduce a whole host of problems to a company’s network.
Network security is something that should always remain a top priority. It’s essential you partner with an IT provider who understands the proper security protocols needed for remote use of a company's network. This is when to turn to managed IT services. If you’re unfamiliar, read our article, Managed IT Services: Network Monitoring and Data Security.
Sustaining adequate network security means your IT support can work with employees, use a variety of in-home internet setups, and explain multiple security protocols.
Working with an IT provider that offers diverse data security tools can help your remote workers maintain proper cybersecurity practices at home.
Are Backup Systems In Place?
Remote work can increase the chances of data loss due to malware, hardware failures, and any other number of issues. When your team members aren't all using the same wireless network, they may encounter more threats that have the potential to compromise their data.
Having a backup system in place is crucial. If you lose your data, it can lead to financial losses, an embarrassment in reputation within your industry, and even legal action if customer data is mishandled.
Maintaining a strong backup system means not having to worry about your data—it's safe and secure if anything does happen to it.
The Final Say: Back To Work With The Best IT Support
When looking for a technology provider who can support all your employee needs (whether that be at home, in the office, or a mixture of both), it’s critical to assess all the functions that make up your entire IT infrastructure.
What's most important is identifying a technology provider that can work with you by identifying, planning, and resolving your specific needs.
AIS and its IT managed services team can help you develop and strengthen your team, through all sectors of remote or in-house work. We can provide you with the support, knowledge, and tools you need so that you don’t have to worry about your office technology. Reach out to us today to learn more about IT solutions or any of the other products and services we offer. We’re here to give you peace of mind to help you win more business.