In the coming year, businesses will shift to a hybrid virtual/physical workplace for the long term, and IT service providers will need to adapt to meet the needs of this changing workplace. Here are some suggestions for how to do that.

by Phyllis Drucker
Date Published January 11, 2021 - Last Updated January 29, 2021

As a result of changing the way people will work as they return to work, the pandemic introduces a new set of challenges for IT and other service providers in the enterprise. When organizations saw that they didn’t lose overall effectiveness as many employees began to work from home, they also started to question whether a virtual or hybrid virtual/in-office arrangement might be a better way to work. There are certainly opportunities for this in areas of heavy traffic congestion or long-distance commutes.

This article looks at how IT can prepare for the coming changes to the workplace.

Moving to a virtual or virtual/physical workplace creates a new set of problems for IT. It’s more important than ever to ensure the ability to support a remote or flexible computing environment that is safe and secure while also properly managing the assets people use to do so.

But there’s more to the new approach than the way a desktop is delivered and the devices people use. The enterprise needs to be prepared for delivering service in the new normal: a more agile workplace.

  • Many organizations will move towards a shared cube/office environment, with fewer desks/cubes, spaced a bit further apart than they used to be. Workers may need to reserve their space for the days they are in each week or a more organized shared-desk plan may be in place. Solutions will be needed to support this.
  • Some workers may be in the office permanently due to their functions; their needs will be a bit different than hybrid workers and the organization will need the ability to manage their safe check-in and ability to work.
  • Finally, there will be workers who are 100% remote and need to be supported remotely.

IT will need to be able to support all of the standard needs across these three types of workers, and so will need to grow new processes and improve their use of automation to manage the transition.
First and foremost, IT will need to be able to support rapid employee transitions. Whether it’s onboarding new employees or managing job changes and separations, IT needs to be in lock-step with HR organizations and bring as much automation as possible to these processes:

  • Role-based provisioning for access, software, and equipment will become more critical than ever before to help drive the standardization and consistency needed to manage this changing workforce.
  • Once established, the implementation of identity management and remote imaging solutions that are integrated with HR systems will enable IT to ensure secure access to the right applications for new hires and when people change roles or transfer between locations.

Equipment decisions also need to be made. While organizations raced to get equipment to people as they moved to a remote environment, IT needs to determine the future strategy and adjust accordingly. Long-term strategies will be needed for hybrid workers in terms of the equipment available in shared desk areas, and how the organization will deliver calls to a single extension/phone number whether the employee is remote or on site.

Next, IT needs to get really good at asset management, transitioning from location or department-based process to become employee-focused. The assets need to be assigned to and move with the employee as they move between locations and departments. This said, when equipment is charged to a cost center as a one-time fee, you may find that a monthly usage fee may be a better approach, as the new location or department will pick up the charge as the individual moves around.

Finally, service desk and desktop support needs will change. Best-of-breed support is now called for, the service portal is more important than ever, and the following are a must:

  • Knowledge bases offering employee-facing solutions
  • Chat-bot usage, making it easier to access knowledge, self-service repairs, and requests
  • Ability to submit online requests for goods and services
  • Integration to organization chat solutions or use of portal chat to service desk agents
  • Creation of virtual walk-up centers for advanced support

The primary message here is innovation! This is a time for IT to throw out business as usual and think about innovative approaches that will support the new normal.

Phyllis Drucker is an ITIL® expert certified consultant and information leader at Ness Digital Engineering (formerly Linium). Phyllis has more than 20 years of experience in the disciplines and frameworks of IT service management, as both a practitioner and consultant. She has served HDI since 1997, itSMF USA since 2004 in a variety of capacities including speaker, writer, local group leader, board member, and operations director. She currently chairs the International Executive Board for itSMF. Since 1997, Phyllis has helped to advance the profession of ITSM leaders and practitioners worldwide by providing her experience and insight on a wide variety of ITSM topics through presentations, whitepapers, and articles and now her new book on the service request catalog, Online Service Management: Creating a Successful Service Request Catalogue (International Best Practice). Follow Phyllis on Twitter @msitsm.

Tag(s): supportworld, service quality, technology, service desk, service desk technology, service management


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