16 Ways Companies Can Better Support Remote Workers’ Tech

While most professionals welcome the convenience and flexibility of remote work, for nontech employees, suddenly having to “self-serve” their tech issues can be intimidating. When working in an office, a tech issue is often easily resolved with a quick call or IM to summon someone from the IT team to fix the problem in person. But when a nontech worker is at home alone with a malfunctioning computer or misbehaving software, trying to diagnose and correct the issue on their own or even just trying to explain what they’re seeing on a phone call or Slack can be frustrating, to say the least.

Both companies and their team members want remote work arrangements to succeed. For that to happen, leadership needs to ensure there’s a well-rounded support system to help employees keep their tech tools humming—not only to minimize frustration but also to avoid unnecessary costs and lost productivity. Here, 16 members of Forbes Technology Council share ways companies can better support their remote workers’ tech needs.

1. Set Up A System That Can Help Nontech Workers Identify The Root Of A Tech Issue

Many remote workers call a service desk for help because traditional approaches to self-help have failed. In many cases, reading a technical article is overwhelming for nontech employees. A successful self-help solution needs to engage employees to better understand the crux of their problem (beyond “my laptop is broken”) in order to provide an actual resolution. – Pat Calhoun, Espressive

2. Provide A Dedicated Point Of Contact For Tech Help

Unfortunately, some companies leave their remote workers to “figure it out” without the benefit of a support or help line. Having employees flounder around trying to figure out a tech issue that could be answered simply creates frustration and costs time and lost productivity. Companies need to provide employees with a point of contact to help resolve problems and as a learning opportunity for the future. – Len Covello, Engage People Inc.


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3. Empower Users Through AI Tools

Self-service tech support must be simple and intuitive to succeed. By leveraging artificial intelligence, organizations can empower users to self-service common IT issues. In fact, best practices now allow for predictive resolution—devices are serviced automatically and seamlessly. Bottom line: Now is the time for organizations to quantify how effective IT and digital experiences are and seek ways to improve them. – Jeff Abbott, Ivanti

4. Develop An Accessible, Automated Answer System

We’re seeing the consumerization of the employee experience—just like consumers, employees want to help themselves. But it’s not enough to just have help centers. Companies should also use AI to automatically respond with documented answers on channels where employees typically ask questions, such as Slack. This will make it easier for employees to get answers and reduce the burden on internal departments. – Adrian McDermott, Zendesk

5. Have An Employee Dedicated To Monitoring Security Issues

Companies fail when they assume too much. You might think that employees at tech companies are better equipped to self-serve their own tech issues, but these companies are also more likely to sit on confidential, valuable data that could be the target of ever-increasing cyberattacks. Virtually every company needs at least one full-time IT employee who can be proactive in monitoring these issues. – Joshua Pantony, Boosted.ai

6. Build Solutions With The User Experience In Mind

The user experience has often been overlooked and underappreciated when building solutions and processes intended to support employees. In a remote world, an intuitive, effective and easy-to-understand employee experience allows users to focus on where they can add value, not on figuring out how to deal with clunky processes. Start with making it easier for users to self-serve or get help. – Samantha Williams, Sonoco

7. Send Proactive Recommendations And Alerts

Organizations should monitor systems and alert remote workers with recommendations to prevent and fix technical issues. This is important to improve the remote worker experience, engagement, productivity and wellness. – Alfredo Ramirez, Vyopta

8. Allow Remote Workers To Choose Their Own Tools

Give remote workers the flexibility to choose their own hardware and software. To help them be more productive, you have to give them the tools they need. This will also result in happier employees because they get to choose the equipment they work with. You can’t expect a remote engineer to work with CAD or other design software if they have a preference for another program. – John Giordani, NCheng LLP

9. Consider People-First Communities Like Those On Social Media

Technology employees are used to dealing with IT support and ticketing systems, but nontech employees are not. Many companies fail to build a people-first community similar to what we have come to expect from our favorite social media-based platforms. If companies take a principled step in that direction it would be a massive leap toward the adoption of services by the nontech community. – Cleve Gibbon, Wunderman Thompson

10. Help Remote Workers Establish Reliable, Secure Internet Service

There’s a hierarchy of needs for remote workers; it’s hard for IT to fix issues with your CRM if you can’t get on the internet! Providing quick training on how to use mobile tethering and how to configure home networks to provide reliable, secure connectivity—and, in some cases, communicating with telecom/ISP providers on behalf of your remote team members—to get and keep remote workers online is very important. – Miles Ward, SADA

11. Create Tutorials And ‘Cheat Sheets’

One easy way to help your nontech remote workers improve their self-service support skills is to give them a “cheat sheet.” We also offer easy-to-follow virtual tutorials for new employees who want to learn how to use the software and tools we use daily. We make this option available to all new hires, and I believe this strategy has helped our team get on the same page. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

12. Standardize Systems And Platforms

Self-service of any kind needs to be quick, easy and reliable for the end user, but it also needs to meet the business compliance standards. Companies fail when they employ a patchwork of various systems and platforms for different purposes. When at all possible, a company should standardize these systems while ensuring a smooth end user experience. – Edan Evantal, Quali

13. Hold Open Office ‘Help’ Hours

A how-to guide can solve many problems, but we hold open office hours for our team to troubleshoot with an internal tech professional once a week. Sometimes there are several small fixes and questions, while on other occasions there is nothing. However, this allows employees to let us know what’s going on before frustration sets in! – Matt Pierce, Immediate

14. Ensure Remote Workers Receive Training On Any New Tech

One of the most important, and overlooked, aspects of implementing remote tech is upskilling workers on how to actually use it and gain value from it. A simple microlearning course introducing the tech and answering FAQs could drastically increase user engagement, improve ROI and reduce the number of support tickets for your IT team. – Jacob Waern, eduMe

15. Implement Cloud-Based Services

The pandemic served as a wakeup call for many businesses that were unprepared to provide secure access to company networks and resources from remote locations. Failing to implement the necessary cloud-based enterprise services, such as Microsoft Endpoint Manager, for remote patching and compliance is one way many businesses failed to ensure staff had a seamless experience from home. – Husein Sharaf, Cloudforce

16. Set Up Self-Service Communities Combining A Trainer And A Knowledge Base

Given the shortage of IT resources to handle tech-related issues, nontech workers’ technology support issues tend to be ignored. IT companies should be looking at self-service communities. Training a “trainer” to provide guidance for support issues and leveraging AI-driven chatbots with knowledge base articles will increase case deflections, leading to better support for nontech workers. – Buyan Thyagarajan, Eigen X