Security Experts:

Now That Everyone's Working From Home, How's Your Helpdesk Holding Up?

Users Aren’t the Only Ones Adapting to a New Normal in Today’s Work-From-Home World

If your organization is one of the many adjusting to the new “normal” of a virtual workforce, you understand the challenges that come with helping employees, contractors, gig workers and others in the workforce make the transition to working remotely. From getting the hang of technology for virtual meetings to learning new ways to securely log into systems, there’s a lot to learn in the new normal of home-based office settings. As you work to reduce adverse impacts on your workforce, don’t overlook the impact on the people who are making it all possible for everybody else: your IT and helpdesk teams.

If You Think the Change Is Stressing You Out…

Heightened anxiety is a normal consequence of drastic change, and it’s natural for the entire organization to be stressed by the shift to a fully remote work environment. IT and helpdesk teams are especially likely to feel stressed. They’re on the front line, building and deploying infrastructure as fast as they can to enable secure remote access, and providing the support to keep it all running smoothly. And they’re likely doing it from home, where they themselves are having to adjust to a new way of working. As much as any others in the workforce – if not more so – they need to able to hit the ground running and work productively and effectively under today’s challenging circumstances. 

Minimizing the Burden with Automation and User Self-Service 

You rely on IT and helpdesk personnel to get users set up, working securely and productively, as fast as possible. The more they can rely on technology to help get that done, the better for all. Making it easy for users to log in securely from outside the traditional workplace is one of the biggest tasks associated with enabling a remote workforce. To keep things moving quickly and avoid overburdening IT, look for identity and access management tools that automate deployment of authentication methods to users. Self-service is also key for enabling users to get set up quickly and easily without having to rely on the helpdesk for assistance with initial enrollment (or later, with issues like password reset or credentials recovery). Remember, too, that you need authentication that will integrate seamlessly with your core networking infrastructure; there’s no time for IT to build custom integrations for web-based applications. Look instead for a solution that is already tested and certified to work across different environments. 

More Ways to Support Those Who Support Everyone Else

Once everyone’s up and running smoothly, IT and helpdesk teams are key to keeping it that way – and just as vulnerable to overwhelming demands as they were in the initial stages. There will always be users reaching out to say, “I can’t connect to the VPN” or “IM isn’t working,” to name just a couple of typical issues. Think about steps you can take beyond technology to ensure the helpdesk can respond effectively. One approach I recommend is having “champions” in place within the lines of business who can serve as conduits for IT help when many users in the remote workforce are experiencing the same problem, or when a problem persists. This means just one user instead of dozens connecting to the support team to address an issue. 

Whether you decide to adopt remote workforce operations for the long term or return to a more traditional work setting once the immediate need has passed, having the right systems in place will ensure business continuity and the resilience needed for a secure workforce amid any disruption. Choices that keep your IT and helpdesk teams as productive, effective and stress-free as possible are critical to your success.

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Jim Ducharme is Vice President of Identity Products at RSA. He is responsible for product strategy and leads the associated product management and engineering teams. He has nearly two decades of experience leading product organizations in the Identity marketspace, and has held executive leadership roles at Netegrity, CA, and Aveksa.