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How to Deal with Difficult IT Concerns Remotely

As an information technology (IT) professional, you are an essential contributor to the success of contemporary businesses. We’re living in an age where it has become increasingly difficult for companies to thrive without the tools of our digital landscape.

Your expertise is a valuable component in day-to-day operations and data security.

However, your role is certainly not without its challenges. One of the key issues IT professionals face today is the growing adoption of remote operations. Dealing with problems and overcoming hurdles in these scenarios is no longer as simple as walking across the office and handling it personally.  

So, how can you best address difficult IT issues when you aren’t necessarily in the same physical space as computers, servers, or staff? 

Let’s go through a few elements you need to focus on to ensure your expertise is translated effectively across the geographical divide.  

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Reducing Vulnerabilities

One of the prevalent issues with remote operations is the sheer range of potential vulnerability points. The confines of an office are by no means entirely hack-proof, particularly where aspects of infrastructure are connected to a wider network. But when all members of staff are geographically disparate — sometimes across the globe — there is significant scope for things to go wrong.

As such, you need to treat addressing remote cybersecurity as a priority. According to one study, small businesses are at particular risk with 43% of all cyberattacks being targeted toward this type of enterprise. It’s vital to remain vigilant about where your remote practices can be strengthened against such attacks. 

Adopt a range of small but consistent efforts — two-factor authentication, data encryption practices, and firewall use among others. Keep abreast of current malicious focuses in your industry. Malware, phishing, and man-in-the-middle attacks can each be targeted at specific business models.   

You also need to put effort into not just developing but communicating your cybersecurity protocols. Your range of tools and practices can’t be effective if people don’t know why they’re important. Create a range of communication materials that simply but effectively pass on information about present risks and how to mitigate them. Update these regularly.

Preventing cybercrime can also come down to employee behavior. A recent study found 47% of business leaders reported human error was a factor in data breaches. You can’t be there to hold everyone’s hands all the time, but you can design elearning training courses. Use screen capture software to take employees step-by-step through using online tools safely. Provide screenshots of phishing messages so they know how to recognize them. Host discussion sessions over video calls to assess your workers’ level of understanding and address any anxieties they may experience on the subject.

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Facilitating Collaboration

Some of the most challenging IT issues require multiple team members’ contributions. This may involve professionals from different departments or with varied IT skill sets to tackle a project. It might be that the problem in the network can benefit from the knowledge and perspectives of more than one expert. In remote operations, you can’t just all head into a meeting room to attend to this. You have to take a flexible approach to facilitating IT collaborations.

Your first consideration has to be geared toward making this practical. Teamwork in a remote setting isn’t going to feel natural for everyone, so you need to adopt collaborative tools and practices to keep each member involved. This includes the basics of making certain there is a fair and mindful approach to time zones if your team is spread across large distances. You should also consider the addition of virtual whiteboard platforms alongside your video calling software. These keep the details of the project visible while allowing professionals to contribute ideas no matter where they are.   

Aside from the body of the meetings, it is vital to take a strict approach to organization and documentation. You may have developed some great ideas for solutions during brainstorming. But unless good notes have been taken, there is a chance for priorities or activities to get confused. 

Make sure a summary of the meeting and next steps is emailed to each team member. Keep a running document stored on a cloud service all colleagues have access to. It can be wise to limit editing privileges of these documents to the team leads so there is always an accurate master plan. 

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Empowering Colleagues

Some of the most difficult aspects of IT in remote teams don’t come down to especially complex network procedures. It’s the sheer inefficiency of having to adopt additional procedures to handle every problem a remote worker may have. Having a non-expert worker attempt to explain a problem to you, then perhaps use remote desktop software to go in and deal with the issue still eats into your day. 

It can therefore be worth developing procedures to empower workers to handle some issues themselves. Give employees training on solving internet connectivity problems and reducing overheating when running complex software. Help them recognize the need to clear the cache to free up disk space if a computer is running slower than usual. It can be wise to include these as part of the onboarding process.

You don’t need to make workers into IT experts, it’s just a case of making sure they can get moving ahead rather than disrupt your mutual productivity in seeking simple solutions. It can also be wise to talk them through troubleshooting their issues and documenting the results. This can ensure that if they must come to you for help, you don’t need to look through the basics first. They can provide you with an accurate account of everything they’ve done.

Among the benefits of this approach is it creates a stronger culture of technological literacy throughout the organization. It also helps workers to feel more confident in their actions and in control of the tools they use every day.

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Conclusion

IT issues are often made more difficult in remote circumstances where you don’t have physical access to machines. You can make an impact here by putting procedures in place to reduce the vulnerabilities that cause problems in the first place. 

Facilitating collaborations with remote tools can mean IT teams can address problems effectively wherever they are. It can also be a positive step to work on giving colleagues the tools they need to solve simple issues themselves. 

With some additional effort and planning, these steps can help make sure the company’s systems run smoothly.