“The devil’s in the details.”
CIOs scrambling to implement remote workforce models can appreciate the wisdom of that adage. Consider the basic task of deploying, installing and servicing laptops at the homes of end users. This involves shipping and delivery of equipment, which raises myriad logistical issues in today’s disrupted environment.
Once devices are implemented, users need help desk phone and online support. That presents a challenge as service desk staff face the dual task of supporting transitioning workers, while themselves shifting to work-at-home models. Some users, moreover, will require on-site support, which means dispatching bonded and insured technicians to widely dispersed locations. And even that may be insufficient, as now we’re seeing that in some cases technicians aren’t allowed to access end users’ homes because of quarantine restrictions. This requires implementing and managing a complex supply chain that connects hardware and devices to an Advanced Exchange “Hot Spare” service that includes warehouses, configuration management, asset tracking, OEM management, repair, shipping and receiving, etc.
The point is, response strategies are a continually evolving set of moving parts and priorities. Security has to be a major area of focus. Bad actors seek to exploit any crisis, and remote workers offer the alluring combination of processes and standards that have fallen by the wayside, poorly protected devices and vulnerable individuals who likely lack awareness of potential threats. As such, ensuring compliance with regulatory and industry standards, enhancing network infrastructure to accommodate the VPN needs of home-based workers and educating employees on cyber threats are paramount.
Creating a positive experience for end users is also essential. This requires more than simply implementing toolsets and providing the functionality needed to work productively. For a new home-based worker whose laptop needs servicing, waiting for a support call or a technician to arrive can be demoralizing. Rapid responsiveness is therefore critical, to make sure that end users feel that their requirements matter, and that they’re comfortable in the new remote environment. That starts with proper communication and support, and includes equipping the help desk to deliver quick solutions. Making things as “normal” as possible will help employees accept and be comfortable in this radically new environment that we’re dealing with.
Unanticipated challenges will undoubtedly arise. CIOs will need to work with their providers and partners to adjust and adapt to new conditions with agility and flexibility. That said, they must maintain focus on a clearly defined set of priorities.