Pandemic recovery will mean fresh upheaval for IT professionals
If nothing else, Covid-19 has taught us a lot about our ability to change. Even in a world of complex routine, we can still swerve when given opportunity and need. IT professionals' adaptability allowed businesses to usher in an era of remote working previously unimaginable. They faced a huge challenge in facilitating remote working on such a large scale, and the journey is just beginning. With vaccines being rolled out around the world, recovery may finally begin in earnest, but it also means some fresh upheaval for IT professionals.
Maintain that knowledge base
Over the past 18 months, we've seen organizations strive to build and maintain dedicated repositories for internal resources and how-tos, embracing and socializing digital transformation, and empowering their employees. IT professionals have also set new standards in supporting their users with self-service capability workers have been asking for years. The service desk is one of the biggest winners.
Employees become less likely to require the council of IT pros when it comes to simple tasks and that's important for several reasons. A well-designed employee service portal can offer everything required to keep employees up and running wherever they're working from, but only if the knowledge base is intuitive, well-maintained, and comprehensive.
That means teams should be designing portals including the basics along with other IT and business change management. Request forms and knowledge articles in particular help employees who are perhaps less tech-savvy to broaden their understanding of IT and ensure they find the resources they require. The nature of such a portal needs to be as clear and direct as possible, making it easy for employees to search for information. It's also critical to include a glossary that details key requests employees regularly access, written in a language anybody can understand.
So why is this important now, in late 2021, when businesses are preparing for the return of their workforce? The switch to remote working during the pandemic was the start of a "new normal," and we're likely to see far more flexibility in the workplace in the future. Employees will come and go, working flexible hours, hotdesking and taking their technology with them, and even IT professionals—typically a mainstay of any office—won't always be on-premises. With that in mind, it's more important than ever that employees can troubleshoot themselves, particularly when it comes to simpler IT tasks, and a well-maintained knowledge base can make all the difference.
Making a difference through automation
Empowering employees through knowledge is the first step, however, embracing automation can help to smooth the journey, whether staff are working from the comfort of their sofa, the local coffee shop (hopefully an option again in the not-too-distant future) or their favourite corner of the office.
With employees coming and going, the service desk as we know it has changed, perhaps forever. Walking across the office to chat to your friendly IT pro may not be an option for many. Social distancing, restricted numbers, and flexible working means it may be a long time, if ever, before we see everybody back to the office again. This requires companies to consider increased automation even as staff are starting to head in again.
AI is an additional automation element to help empower employees further, building on a company's knowledge base and real-world user behaviour. It's demonstrating an ability to provide more relevant content automatically, making it easy for staff to raise their own tickets on the go and further freeing IT professionals to focus on the most critical needs of the business.
Embracing the best tools
Perhaps one of the best ways for IT professionals to prepare for the return of workers is to ensure employees have the right- and new- tools at their disposal. And in returning to work, these tools may have changed. The bulk of new services companies embraced throughout 2020 to facilitate remote working are likely to remain. Widespread worker use of VPNs allowing employees to access private and confidential systems wherever they are, communication clients (such as Zoom, Teams, Slack), and more will all play an important efficiency role when employees return to office.
The remote monitoring solutions organizations put in place during 2020 will play an even larger role throughout 2021 and beyond. Tools like network traffic flow analysis and application performance management (APM) solutions have been providing real-world insight and a comprehensive view of how applications are actually used. Just as data identified performance issues and shifting bottlenecks impacting employees and customers throughout 2020, objective, accurate metrics will be just as relevant when workers have more freedom to choose between remote working and the office itself.
Sascha Giese is Head Geek™at SolarWinds