Running a Service Desk with the New Hybrid Workforce

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The year 2020 has seen a sea of change: aside from the obvious health concerns and financial impacts, COVID-19 has forced businesses of all sizes to review and reassess the efficiency of their operations. Less than 12 months ago, there had been a staunch rejection of the idea that employees could effectively work from home. After varying degrees of restrictions and lockdowns, CTOs and business leaders were forced to redeploy their helpdesk staff and adapt to a new era of home working.

The shift to working from home brings with it it’s own benefits: reduced costs on certain in-situ technologies, and less reliance on the need for large office space when considering expansion. Benefits aside, this new hybrid workforce, with a combination of home and on-site working, brings unique challenges of its own. The need to reduce the burden on IT helpdesk staff becomes more important than ever: the use of self-service solutions comes into its own where this is concerned.

With Gartner conducting a survey of 317 CFOs and finance leaders, 74% reported that, following the current pandemic, they would permanently redeploy 5% of their workforce to remote, work from home, positions. What this highlights is that remote working, although a response to current world events, is not a passing phase: the new hybrid workforce is something that is here to stay. That being the case, what considerations should there be for CTOs in terms of ensuring that their helpdesk teams are operating both effectively and efficiently when supporting the end-user?

Automation of repetitive tasks

It is well known that IT helpdesks, along with their reputations, live and die by their ability to deal with a substantial volume of support tickets. When an end-user raises a support ticket, to them it is of the utmost importance, as it is to the company too: failing to resolves a user’s ticket has a negative impact upon customer relations and can also lead to extended downtime. The consequence of extended downtime is, of course, a loss of revenue-generating activities.

For helpdesk staff to deal with an ever-increasing volume of support tickets effectively there is, of course, a need to prioritise. Reports suggest that up to 50% of support tickets that reach an IT helpdesk relate to password issues, and in particular password resets. Password resets, although repetitive in nature, still need to be treated as a priority issue: an end-user being locked out of an account or system has clear implications in terms of being able to carry out their function effectively and in a timely manner. The time spent awaiting a password reset is time lost.

Self-service as a solution

While password resets are, by their nature, a simple fix for helpdesk staff, the sheer volume of them detracts from other support tickets: while resolving password issues swiftly is vital, every support ticket is a pressing issue, and of the highest priority, to the end-user that raised it.

LogonBox offers a self-service password reset solution that immediately does away with the issues raised here. Imagine if every time an end-user was locked out of their account due to a password issue, that this could be dealt with without the need to raise a support ticket. Imagine the impact on your helpdesk when the number of support tickets significantly reduces. Imagine the opportunities that would be presented for you and your team to focus your time and resources on other issues. This is what a self-service password reset solution can bring to you and your helpdesk.

Of course, password resets are only a single element of the password management issues that are presented to IT helpdesks. Your team is also the go-to resource to assign permissions and credentials associated with users and their passwords. The self-service solution offered by LogonBox also allows the drain of these tasks to be removed from your teams. The availability of a password vault and password manager means that once admins have been created, they can then assign credentials to users and groups of users without the need to interact with the IT helpdesk.

Maintaining the balance

Automating help desk roles such as offering self-service password reset options and password management tools are a vital part of ensuring that a hybrid workforce operates effectively. However, with a hybrid workforce comes the inevitable lack of personal interaction: face to face no longer an option, and even phone calls dwindling being replaced by email or bots.

In many ways, this is positive: end-users are looking for an instant solution to their issue and no longer require, or even desire, the human interaction that used to be part of this. However, there are issues that are more complex than a password reset. There are issues where an email talking a user through the required steps won’t suffice. For some of these issues, end-users expect and need human contact.

Again this is where the importance of automation comes in. For those users that need the human touch, it is more than difficult to find the time that they both require and deserve when your helpdesk is fighting a losing battle against an ever-mounting number of support tickets. The ability to allow users self-service password reset options doesn’t just benefit the helpdesk staff: the natural consequence is that there is a direct benefit to all end-users as suddenly your team has the time and resources to dedicate to the areas that, perhaps, have become neglected over time.

People first

For organisations that have previously resisted a move towards a hybrid workforce, concerns had been raised around employee productivity. Can you truly expect your staff to be as productive operating remotely as they would be under your watchful gaze in an office environment? Despite any concerns, research actually suggests that the answer to this a resounding yes. In fact, not are employees just as productive as they would be in a traditional workplace setting, they are often more so and are even willing to work extended hours when required. So what are the driving factors behind the increased productivity and even dedication? The key lays within a happy workforce.

Your helpdesk team members, whether operating remotely or within an office space, require the tools to do their job. A lack of these tools has a direct impact on their satisfaction levels and so goes on to impact their performance. Conversely, provide your helpdesk team with the right tools and see satisfaction levels increase. Not only will an increase in their satisfaction levels bolster their performance, but the knock-on effect is also that end-users receive a higher quality service leading to an increase in customer satisfaction too.

Tools offered by LogonBox such as its self-service password reset and password management features, give your helpdesk team what it needs. As we have seen previously these tools can effectively reduce your teams’ workload and associated pressures. This will directly impact your teams’ motivation levels and subsequently increase productivity.

A natural consequence of supplying your team with the correct tools is that they will remain in their post for longer. No company wants the associated costs that come with a high turnover of staff. Automating tasks will go a long way to retaining your employees whether they are based at home or within a traditional workplace.

A hybrid workforce and security

With data breaches, system hackings, and the rise in cybercrime, a major concern for any organisation with employees operating remotely has to be that of security.

With helpdesks operating remotely, as well as supporting end-users who are now home-based, activities such as remote access, configuration changes, and remote control will often require the need for privileged access and sensitive sources. This brings the need for an organisation to be mindful of the security features in place and ensure that they have the capability to protect its environment.

Password vulnerability is always going to be of concern to an organisation. This concern is likely increased with the growth in home working. The ability to automate the process of resetting passwords may raise issues over how secure it is and the likelihood of it being abused.

With LogonBox, its self-service password reset service offers its users added security measures in order to allay some of these fears. Allowing single sign-on with SAML, LogonBox also offers its own 2-factor authenticator app called LogonBox Authenticator. The app uses biometrics to offer a secure password reset through the portal. Additionally, it can be used as part of the password manager to secure web and app access.

The strain that the demand for password resets places on a helpdesk means that a self-service option is a logical step to take. LogonBox has built a service that addresses this need but has also ensured that security is at the forefront of what they offer. This means that the fears surrounding security breaches can be removed.

The set up for remote working

Traditional resistance to the idea of employees working from home centred on it being cost-prohibitive and so there was no real prospect of it being rolled out on a large scale. The prospect of standalone helpdesk apps would mean that each new team member would need a separate app. With each separate app comes the associated installation and maintenance costs. As each of these costs increases, departments are becoming ever closer to exceeding their already limited budgets.

The events of 2020 forced the hand of many organisations. They were forced to reevaluate the idea of a home-based workforce and also forced to explore cost-effective ways of implementing this new-style of working. While some companies, mistakenly, pushed ahead with the expensive implementation of standalone apps, others explored and successfully deployed alternative measures that would save costs and also provide an infrastructure that was scaleable.

The alternative was found by utilising cloud-based services. With IT helpdesk tools being cloud-based, it means that the user account setup process and management become centralised. Rather than the previous method of onboarding a new worker, with a cloud-based service, it becomes as simple as providing URLs with credentials.

The future of the hybrid workforce

A move towards a hybrid workforce was, in some areas, already underway and employees had certainly already shown a desire for remote working. The growth and rise of the hybrid workforce were not prompted solely by recent world events: the current pandemic merely accelerated a move down this route.

The changes that have now taken a place, and what a modern workforce will now look like are unlikely to reverse: employees are happy and organisations have been pleasantly surprised at the ease at which they have been able to maintain their operations with this new hybrid workforce. With companies such as Google, Twitter, and BP publicly stating that they plan to be flexible with their working options in the post-pandemic era, then it certainly appears that a remote workforce is something that is here for the long-term, and likely to stay.

Of course, these changes mean that organisations will need to continue to adapt and perhaps discover new ways of working. In terms of helpdesks, the single biggest change that they can make from which they will reap the benefits is to usher in automation.

The self-service password reset and password management services available through LogonBox are vital steps towards increasing the performance of your helpdesk: allowing them to work effectively and remotely, while also allowing them to offer an increased level of service to the end-users who are working from home. LogonBox is the only solution available that offers an on-premise VM image, a cloud tenant (meaning that no hardware is required), and also for MSPs and enterprise businesses, there is the option of a private cloud in a nearby data centre.

Learn more

To learn more about building a better, proactive and scalable service desk, check out, “The 5 Key Elements of a Scalable Proactive Service Desk” whitepaper and set your IT service desk on the right course for success. To see if LogonBox is the right solution for you to help reduce IT support tickets and reduce load on your helpdesk team, get a free evaluation here.

Follow LogonBox and check out all our free products: LogonBox SSPR, LogonBox VPN and LogonBox Cloud Directory.

This article was first published in the LogonBox Journal on Dec 18th, 2020.

Makers of @LogonBoxSSPR — free sspr, @LogonBoxVPN — free wg-vpn and @LogonBoxDirectory — free cloud ldap. www.logonbox.com.

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