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Tech Support, Time To Shine

08 Apr 2020

Brightwater

Working remotely has its challenges but it's made far easier with the help of technical support professionals.

It’s hard enough being a tech support professional. Normally you get a panicked phone call and when you’ve remotely exhausted all the list of possibilities (loose cable, plug out of wall or a simple reboot for example), then you can simply go to the PC or laptop in person and fix it within a few minutes. But when an entire workforce is working from home and you’re trying to interpret a non-techie person’s lengthy (and let’s face it, entirely unhelpful) description of what’s going wrong over the phone, then your job just got a whole lot more difficult!

Normally the duties of an IT helpdesk technician (or tech support professional) are relatively straightforward. Responsibilities include:

  • Dealing with IT queries for first line support, troubleshooting and escalating complicated issues
  • Providing “how to” assistance on all internally supported devices, applications and systems
  • Analysing and resolving IT faults ranging from a system crash to a forgotten password
  • Updating call logging systems

However, there are a whole range of new challenges rearing their heads during enforced lock-down when the majority of the workforce are working from home. A veritable army of tech support professionals were forced to swing into action once quarantine was announced and their frantic activity levels ramped up even further when an official lockdown was put into place. Heads of IT departments everywhere had been making tentative plans already to allow for large scale working from home projects but there was still the logistics and day to day difficulties of IT support to be considered.

  • Setting up of equipment: Trying to ensure that everyone has a laptop or a PC in which they can access their work was step one. Quite a lot of retailers countrywide had a surge in demand for laptops and cables at the start of quarantine as companies realised that their existing resources weren’t enough. Some organisations simply sent the actual PCs to their employees’ homes to enable them to keep working and also had to ensure that staff had access to broadband, headsets if required. IT departments would also have faced difficulty in installing programmes and remote control tools.

     

  • Cyber Security: Firewalls are easily installed when staff are working in the same corporate network but can be a nightmare when people are working off their own unsecured home routers. The recent debacle with Zoom where the system was hacked and meetings were “Zoombombed” is a case in point. A surge in usage of any application is going to make them even more attractive to hackers. IT best policy would dictate that no new applications be installed by the user as this could leave this PC or laptop open to hacking.

     

  • Access to systems: Trying to install a system onto a PC or laptop remotely can present its own problems particularly when you’re talking a non-tech professional through the steps of the process over the phone. Some applications namely MS Teams can allow users to share / give control of their PC or laptop to the IT professional remotely so problems like this can be navigated easily but MS Teams is limited.

     

  • Troubleshooting issues:  Even basic issues such as a document disappearing or a forgotten password can prove problematic when you can’t see the screen in front of you and are relying on the person to describe the problem in their own terms. When you can see the log of calls looking for help mounting up on the screen and you still can’t get your colleague to understand that the shift button needs to be held down at the same time that a function button on the keyboard is pressed, it can prove incredibly frustrating. Troubleshooting home broadband issues can also prove to be one of the hardest things for a tech support professional. At least with a corporate network, you know how it’s built but if you’re dealing with a high number of different home set ups, that’s a whole different obstacle course to navigate.

Technical skills and “know-how” are incredibly important for any tech support professional and IT help desk analyst. But sometimes in a tech support role and now more than ever, it’s the softer skills of patience, good communication skills and an ability to empathise with your non-technology minded colleagues that will be remembered!

If your organisation is looking for 1st level tech support or helpdesk analysts on a permanent, temporary or contract basis, please contact our IT team:

Belfast: Con Lam   [email protected]