Remote work has become the norm for many companies in the wake of Covid-19, and while many people enjoy the relaxed environment working from home affords, it can also present new challenges for your IT service desk. With many employees encountering more IT issues while working from home, the service desk may be facing remote-work fatigue as IT support tickets pile up with seemingly no end in sight. Add in the social element that working from home removes, and some members of the IT service desk may find themselves missing office life.
According to Pew Research Center, 71% of workers surveyed are doing their job from home all or most of the time. Of the companies who moved to remote work, 83% of employers now say the shift to remote work has been successful for their company, compared to 73% in a June 2020 survey. However, during the pandemic crisis, IT budgets significantly shrank while business requests and IT support tickets increased. Adding to the stress, with more people working remotely and digital transformation speeding up, more technology was needed, which meant that more support was needed in turn.
Another challenge: Companies that may have been slow to adopt technologies that support remote work — or to create clear rules and a secure structure around WFH — are playing catch-up, according to research from PWC.
These figures represent just a few of the unique changes and challenges presented by remote work. All of these trends and statistics point to one universal issue: more remote and hybrid employees creates a wider chasm between the IT service desk and their customers.
So how can you combat this fatigue? By providing proactive and predictive support through automation that makes your human agents’ lives easier. Here’s how:
Harness Proactive and Predictive Automation to Shift Left
The first step in relieving remote work fatigue is to try to alleviate some of the pressure of the extra tickets constantly accumulating. You can do that with the assistance of automation via self service that facilitates a shift-left approach (meaning you shift Level-1 tickets to self-service and so on).
You can deploy automation via a customer-facing self service portal to automate simple processes like password resets or other low-level ticket items. This automation can also work to automate workflows when tickets are created by customers, removing a few redundant steps along the way for both the customer and the agent.
Using the same type of automation, on the service desk side you can eliminate some of the frustration or fatigue by using IT infrastructure monitoring to eliminate potential system downtime. Further, automation and AI at the service desk can help employees access knowledge articles more quickly and easily to help them work through issues their coworkers may have stored knowledge about.
Many service desks look to ITIL best practices to provide guidance on how to prioritize requests. However, while ITIL best practices can be incredibly useful, I think it’s safe to say they were not created with a global pandemic forcing companies into permanent remote work in mind, and with potentially hundreds of backlogged tickets waiting to be handled.
Although your service desk may normally stick with ITIL best practices, you may need to temporarily change the workflow and work allocation process for service desk employees to ensure that as many requests are handled as possible. This will require analyzing which team members do best with specific requests, which can work quickly on smaller items, and which requests can be moved to self service.
The team may also need to choose which focus to tackle collectively. For example, the service desk may find it helpful to prioritize smaller requests first, saving the more high-level, long-term, complex issues for seasoned team members to handle once the workload has been divided and conquered.
Create Opportunities for Growth
Reducing turnover is important when it comes to providing consistent support at the service desk. If your team is coping with burnout and remote work fatigue, you might be wondering how you can help them if they’re close to, or already reaching, that point.
Although it sounds counterintuitive to take some of your agents offline, you’ll find that allowing your team members to take time away from resolving tickets to focus on learning new skills and moving closer to their own personal career goals. When you support your staff to achieve their professional goals, they’ll feel more empowered to creatively solve customer problems and provide customer-centric service.
Don’t Underestimate the Modern Service Desk in the Remote Work Paradigm
At the end of the day, a remote workforce that is rejuvenated and avoiding burnout requires a relentlessly modernized service desk. By that, I mean that to support the modern customer and the problems they face, you must first embrace new technology and advanced ways of thinking.
Evan Carlson, a member of the HDI 2021 Strategic Advisory Board, was hired in 2010 as EasyVista’s first North American employee. During his tenure, Carlson has served in a variety of roles and now serves as the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) of EasyVista North America. As a result of his and his teams’ efforts, EasyVista has been named in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for IT Service Management Tools ten years in a row.