If 2020 was the year of getting used to remote work, 2021 will be the year we learned to function as a hybrid workforce. As some employees start to make their way back into offices, others will continue to work efficiently from their homes, and still others will likely do some combination of both. Some organizations have even started downsizing office space in anticipation of having fewer people on-site every day. This means that firms need to adjust their approach to user support in order to effectively assist all staff in a hybrid world.
On August 23, 2021, the first day of ILTACON 2021, Jay Kozie, vice president of Keno Kozie, led a panel along with Paul Buckin, director of training and technical services at Wiley Rein, to discuss the challenges and realities of the new hybrid way of doing business. Entitled “User Support in a Hybrid World,” the panel provided valuable insights on challenges, strategies, approaches and more for building a support function to serve a hybrid workforce.
The Return to the Office
Many firms at this point have started to have employees return to work in some capacity, whether that’s on a voluntary basis or on some sort of required schedule that will be put in place by the end of the year. Of the panel attendees, 12% reported that employees were slowly coming back to the office, while 22% reporting having a hybrid work approach.
The trick now is to make sure that your company can equally support the people who are in the office and those who continue to work remotely. Much like the first few months of remote work were marked by an increase in training to get everyone where they needed to be, the same will likely be true as employees adapt their schedules and lives to a hybrid work model.
Hybrid Support Trends and Challenges
Different size firms will experience different challenges and priorities when it comes to bringing employees back. Smaller firms might be focused more on making sure their current spaces are ready to meet the realities of work in the pandemic era, while medium and larger firms will likely be more focused on things like physical office enhancements and desktop or Windows updates.
Some of the biggest return-to-office focuses and trends today include:
- Inventorying equipment
- Updating desktops
- Maintaining printers, copiers and other equipment
- Making sure that telephone service is working with the server or cloud service
- Making sure docking stations and all equipment are working
- Enhancing on-site support, including having outsourced service providers on-site to help during the return to work
In terms of challenges, the panel highlighted some likely obstacles from both a personnel and a technical perspective. Regarding personnel, companies should be prepared to see some pushback from IT staff regarding health concerns and why certain employees will be required to come back while others won’t. To address the pushback, firms may want to create a revolving schedule that accommodates some remote work while still providing the necessary support for in-office attorneys and staff.
As for support challenges, you should expect many things to take longer than you’re used to. Communication can be slower in a hybrid environment, and things can’t always be solved with quick brainstorming sessions. Every aspect of the support function will likely take more planning and action than it did in the past, including things like new hire training. This also means that the support call queue might see significant backups.
To address these challenges, many firms are looking to outside support. At Keno Kozie, we offer virtual site visits to help you get back up and running. We can also provide you with whatever level of support you need, whether that’s fully handling your IT function or assisting with specific tasks, like preparing your office, upgrading your applications, moving certain functions to the cloud or serving as an outsourced help desk to meet increased demand.
Preparing to support a hybrid workforce doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Contact Keno Kozie today to learn more.