Feeds

Remote IT support 'is harder'

Local support to local people?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Poll Results Perish the thought that we at Freeform Towers should try to over-simplify things, but from the whopping 465 of you who responded to this week's Reg survey, it is clear that there is more to 'remote support' than meets the eye.

In analysing the responses we agreed with comments from Reg regular Trevor Pott, that "a true 'remote user' is anyone who has to operate primarily outside the corporate firewall."

Indeed, the most straightforward way to consider remote users was to identify those who were not central office-based. On this basis, according to respondents the majority of users are office-based in only a third of organisations researched (figure 1).


Figure 1

In this poll we were primarily interested in finding out how remote support experiences vary between local remote users. Mucho gravitas/lucky you to the six per cent who told us that in fact providing IT support to remote users is easier, but for the majority it ranks as 'a bit harder' or 'much harder'. OK, perhaps we could have anticipated that, but what’s interesting is not just the absolute measure, but the numbers of you out there making the same comments about how and where issues arise (figure 2).


Figure 2

So what are the issues you face? We get some insight into the specifics (figure 3) when we consider the obvious status of a remote worker. Despite the existence of tools designed to help in these situations, we find the simple – yet insurmountable – truth that you can’t get up and go visit a user at their desk side does have a pretty big impact on providing support to them.


Figure 3

One element of this that is interesting was how highly you ranked ‘expectation levels of remote users’ as being a factor contributing to making things more difficult.

On the one hand, a remote user’s expectations may be simply the same, or lower than those of an onsite worker for the simple reason that they may consider the physical separation to count for something (which it does) and afford IT support some slack. On the other hand, if they are fairly used to remote working and have been given access to the corporate applications they need and have the rest of the world at their fingertips via the Internet, why should IT support be an issue? Regardless, those at the short end – doing the supporting – acknowledge this factor as making their jobs harder.

But the size of the ‘other’ bar is hard to ignore, which goes some way to suggest the complexities in this area – and this is where the freeform responses come into their own. Based on your responses we grouped similar issues into the following categories:

  • ‘User availability’: e.g., keeping to agreed times, working ‘strange’ hours
  • ‘Level of IT literacy’: most of these were not really printable :)
  • ‘Communication’: users not being able to articulate their problems
  • ‘Attitude of user’: reticence to follow instructions, honesty about which Internet sites visited
  • ‘Blurring of boundaries’: between business and home computing
  • ‘Connection’: ‘can you fix my internet connection?’ / ‘dodgy home networks’

Some of these are extensions of those you would expect to see in any user environment, but the physical separation compounds the problem. A good example is where problems occur due to the difficulties of communicating with users of relatively low technical literacy. Needless to say, if you can get around that issue by visiting their desk, great. But with a remote user you must plough on, despite the encounter being frustrating for both user and IT practitioner. The issue of availability can also add to the challenge – and to be fair, it is not something that can be solved by the service desk alone.

It would be easy at this stage to descend into motherhood and bring up the topic of regular end-user training. But we know from other studies that there are certain points at which a little bit of smart thinking can save a lot of effort later – for example, giving users a brief checklist of common issues and how to resolve them, do’s and don’ts and so on. In some cases we understand it may be pertinent to require that a specific piece of training or knowledge be assimilated before ‘remote IT rights’ are granted, but often this can be done using computer-based training, i.e. without any overhead on support.

We saved the best comment until last. We’d love to know how common this particular gem is, submitted by a Reg reader: “Kids murdering each other in the users background make it hard to hear”.

Given the frustration that some of you expressed regarding providing support to users with low levels of IT literacy, perhaps one way round this would be to ask their kids to stop trying to kill each other and for one of them to come and speak on the phone.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Trousers down for six of the best affordable Androids
Stylish Googlephones for not-so-deep pockets
Intel's LAME DUCK mobile chips gobbled by CASH COW
Chipzilla won't have money-losing mobe unit to kick about anymore
First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you
Black Screen of Death plagues early Google-mobe batch
Ford's B-Max: Fiesta-based runaround that goes THUNK
... when you close the slidey doors, that is ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.