COVID-19 Question of the Day #4 - Supporting a Remote Workforce

By ILTA Membership posted 11 days ago

  

Dear ILTAns! 

Last week, we introduced an initiative called the COVID-19 Question of the Day (QoD). These questions were developed based on content covered in our COVID-19 Global Roundtable and harvested from our eGroups. To provide you with quick access to all of the answers received on our QoD postings, we have aggregated the answers to each question into a blog post. We will also post summary documents in the Resource Library for the Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity and Open Public Forum Communities of Interest. Also, there is a COVID QoTD Virtual Roundtable today (3/26/2020) where we wil explore each of the QoDs in more detail! 

Summary: 

  • Organizations who had already made strides toward remote working were at an obvious advantage. 
  • The support teams of organizations with workforces not accustomed to working from home were overwhelmed with calls about remote working and the challenge associated with that process. 
  • Training/documentation is becoming more targeted based on common questions received. 
  • “Nice-to-have" requests have been put on the back burner. 
  • Some organizations are encouraging all members of the IT department to help with technical support calls. 
  • It is important to encourage your support team with a focus on teamwork and positive feedback. 

Have your support teams been overwhelmed with calls from these remote users? 

  • We were was very lucky in that we created a remote working program for attorneys and staff in 2019.  Originally, the goal was to reduce expenditures on office space, provide employees with a more flexible way to work and a reduced commute.  This meant that about 90% of our workforce was given a laptop and the chance to work from home at least one day a week in 2019.   
  • Most of our end users were already equipped to work from home and also had additional equipment such as docking stations and monitors.  For everyone who received equipment to work from home, we offered some networking guidance too.  When it was clear a few weeks ago that we were likely headed towards a mandatory stay at home order, we upgraded the last 15 desktop users and sent WFH kits to over 50 people (attorneys with permanent offices weren't eligible for WFH kits previously).  We redoubled our efforts to get people wireless headsets and train them on the use of Cisco Jabber as a softphone and the use of WebEx.  On Sunday, March 15th, we opened the Help Desk for 6 hours to get a head start on remote working questions.  We also expanded Help Desk hours (7:00 am to 10:00 pm) for the first few days of the week.  This surge really helped us handle the increase in calls.  Starting the week of March 8th, we began to hold daily training classes via WebEx in remote working, use of Jabber and WebEx. 
  • On the L&D side, I have sent out some remote work tips; e.g., how to split your screen if you're working on a single monitor; how to view a single document in a split screen; how to create electronic letterhead and other tips.  Back in the normal days, I visited different floors on Wednesday for Hump Day Help.  Today, I'm visiting virtually and offering 1x1 sessions using our remote connections. 

How are the calls different from pre-COVID calls?  More about connectivity?  Hardware?  Longer or shorter calls? 

  • Last week, a vast majority of calls were about remote working.  Primarily, they were about using the VPN, getting used to Jabber as a softphone and using a wireless headset.  Calls were longer than normal and I had many IT Team members taking Help Desk calls - including me.  Calls continue to be prioritized in the same way where the Help Desk does their best and know what issues to pass on to second tier for assistance.  We did target specific end users for one on one training based on some of their calls.  Starting yesterday (3/24/2020), calls began to shift back to normal patterns.  There are still more calls but more of them are about word processing and regular application use than remote working.  We are continuing to push remote training, create remote working tip sheets and video tips.  We hope to concentrate on more in-depth remote working tip sheets and classes now for things like creating and manipulating PDFs without having a scanner.  We continue to do some deeper dives into people's home network to help improve them as well. 
  • While most calls have to do with applications and settings that are not available remotely, a good number are convenience related, such as for adapters for connecting to TVs, second monitors and docking stations. Again, a good portion of these calls are from non-legal staff. 

How you done anything special to assist with prioritization of calls? 

  • Last week, a vast majority of calls were about remote working.  Primarily, they were about using the VPN, getting used to Jabber as a softphone and using a wireless headset.  Calls were longer than normal and I had many IT Team members taking Help Desk calls - including me.  Calls continue to be prioritized in the same way where the Help Desk does their best and know what issues to pass on to second tier for assistance.  We did target specific end users for one on one training based on some of their calls. 
  • Our company is assisting our clients who utilize 3E and ProLaw with the remote management of their system. If anyone would like to learn more about our Remote 3E and ProLaw Managed Services please reach out. Stay safe everyone.  (Carlos Polanco, Helm360) 
  • The "nice to have requests, such as second monitors, have been put on the back burner. Getting shortcuts for people as they are not used to going into the start menu. Our immediate priority is to ensure people can log in and work. 

As you have entered week 2 of remote working, have you seen more changes in the calls? 

  • Starting yesterday, calls began to shift back to normal patterns.  There are still more calls but more of them are about word processing and regular application use than remote working.  We are continuing to push remote training, create remote working tip sheets and video tips.  We hope to concentrate on more in-depth remote working tip sheets and classes now for things like creating and manipulating PDFs without having a scanner.  We continue to do some deeper dives into people's home network to help improve them as well. 
  • Yes, since many of our users are not accustomed to working remotely. 
  • In our environment, passwords expiring that cannot be changed until people are in the office on our network. Getting all of the applications available, that were originally not a priority. 

Are you concerned with “tech support sanity”?  If so, what words of encouragement are you giving to those in the front line of user support? 

  • I am very concerned about the IT Team's sanity.  I have been doing weekly virtual team meetings just to let people talk about what kinds of issues they are seeing, to let them vent and to help me target resources.  I plan to start personally checking in with every team member once a week via phone/WebEx.  I think the key to your Help Desk, the larger IT Team and the firm staying sane is teamwork, positive feedback and honesty.  I believe you should encourage everyone on the IT Team to take some Help Desk calls.  We have Jabber configured for multi-line use and I have added the Help Desk line to every IT person's softphone. 
  • I'm helping them and reviewing calls to make sure we prioritize to get people what they ABSOLUTELY need to work. We had some admin people call because they didn't have shortcuts to some applications on their desk. I got our trainer involved to show them how to navigate through the start menu. We're using this as a learning opportunity to be better prepared for the next time. This will pass. 
  • We are a small office, but we are sharing home office pictures and some giggles; also having a Zoom staff meeting today so we can wave at each other!  Lots and lots of phone communication and email communication.  Great constant good communication from management too is VERY helpful, especially since we are now on shut-down (Shelter-in-Place). 
  • We are rapidly adding classes to the schedule that are relevant: IM, voipWebex, and remote access.  We are also curating and distributing support materials... also rapidly ... and against SOP that requires more "I dotting and T crossing." We are not handing out full reference guides on a tool, rather a reference guide on a best practice for <fill in the blank with process>. 
  • We are running weekly contests.  The first week we asked everyone to send in pictures of their pets (selfies were encouraged).  We gave out prizes and posted the pictures on LinkedIn.  This week we're asking people to send in pictures of their collections but we're turning it into a game by having everyone guess the owners of the collections.
Related Comments from COVID-19 Virtual Roundtable on March 26, 2020

  • I love it. I have been wanting to work from home for years. If we can support it (we can) and be productive (to be determined) then I hope more people will split time between the office and home.

    We're still working on a "work from home policy"

    Mute button and how to participate on a conference call instructions have to be discussed

    Doing some "housekeeping" we needed but never had time, such as cleaning up shared drives; updating records of what software/power users are out there, status of CLE requirements, updating our management of ECF/NexGen/Pacerpro logins, etc.

    Everyone in Technology who could jump into our IT Support Ticket system has jumped in to pick up tickets. 

    We doubled our frontline Service Desk with other IS folks from other roles.

    My team is being invited to practice group meetings to update the attorneys on technology!

    We've had remote capabilities for attorneys for years, via Terminal Server; not we are a virtual firm so it's been easy to just get staff enabled.

    We have a group of LAAs we call IT Ambassadors.  They help with common questions.

    To get everyone the best possible audio and video connections, we are promoting the use of VoIP over dial-in to free up bandwidth usage.

    We have an outsourced help desk.  We are taking all their emails plus have access to

    We provide regular IT tips to the organization via the intranet and Yammer. Really well-received!

    Outside help desks are overwhelmed.

    The outsourced HD service was very overwhelmed, so we had to get everyone responding to tickets.

    Inside helpdesk is overwhelmed as well!

    Hours are endless

    I'm working longer hours but taking more breaks

    We work all day now.

    We dropped our outside help desk from overflow to strictly after-hours.

    My OOO in the evening says "I love my job, but I need the evening off.  Please contact the HD."

    People must have downtime and this needs to be regularly stated as not only acceptable but mandatory

    We are working in conjunction with Outsourced Help Desk.  We are intercepting calls/emails to help them.  Right now - business hours are normal.  weekend/after hours are backlogged. 

    16 hour workdays now.

    I'm reaching out to many of our assistants and scheduling 15 minute conference calls so I can help them work through working remote for the first time, and helping with any app issues.

    Don't waste a good crisis-- agreed! I set up an intranet page for the firm's COVID19 information for staff, and it has gotten a lot of use and made our Research team look really good.

    The boss says keep your normal hours, but there are just too many requests and doing work from home takes a lot longer than normal...

    Don't forget new starters who won't see their colleagues F2F. Consider arranging them to have virtual getting to know you meetings with key stakeholders and colleagues across the organization.

    I'm averaging 12 hour days, so they think I am available 24/7.

  • #COVID-19
  • #REMOTEWORKING 
​​
0 comments
30 views

Permalink