(This post originally appeared on GovTechReview)
When the pandemic first hit our shores last year, it necessitated a shift to remote working for many industries, including the public sector. Now, just when things were easing back to “normal,” Australia finds itself working through another wave of lockdown, which is déjà vu for technology teams as they rush to get everyone set up to work remotely. Again.
Applications once seldom used suddenly became essential for operations to enable business continuity. Far from being a temporary solution, remote work has now become the new normal (or as experienced IT folks tend to think of it, the “NEXT normal”) for many and is something the public sector must prepare to continue, even when offices can reopen. As a result, custom apps must not stutter—they need to function optimally. This has never been more critical, as even a seemingly minor loss in performance—or worse, a critical failure—could bring business to a halt.
The question then becomes “how can the public sector best manage the growing demand for accessibility and visibility?” IT teams need to develop methods to ensure applications function as needed and users can access the network. Critically, IT teams must operate with a new focus in mind: how can they safeguard applications and infrastructure to avoid downtime for users? This is why remote support and monitoring for the public sector have become more important than ever before. Monitoring allows IT teams to diagnose problems impacting remote workers no matter where the problem originates, whether it’s in the applications, storage, databases, or network. This will help IT professionals do the following:
- Create a positive user experience for remote workers
- Account for variances in use
- Diagnose issues with applications and system access
Here’s how IT teams can address these areas of priority.
Create a Positive User Experience for Remote Workers
Creating a positive experience for remote workers is about mirroring the experience we imagine existed when they were in the office. Namely, they need timely access to the agency’s applications and data. I say “the experience we imagine existed” because office networks weren’t always as fast as we seem to misremember now. Still, the method to ensure a consistent experience (in office or out) is to, if possible, prioritize using cloud-based collaboration platforms, as this allows remote workers to converse and work together in real time. IT teams can create and monitor IT dashboards to make sure there are no red flags with systems, network health, applications, and accessibility.
Account for Variances in Use
Over the last eighteen months, demand has varied considerably, having to accommodate both workers who shifted to remote work as well as members of essential teams who must be on-site. IT professionals should use the credibility and “seat at the table” with management—which they earned through their efforts to pivot quickly during the first lockdown—to understand the organization’s intentions with regard to going fully remote, fully returning to the office, or some mixture of the two. This will allow infrastructure experts to understand and plan for the upcoming demands on the network and computing environment. No matter where the business plans to head in the future, the best place to start is by establishing a baseline by monitoring network and computing assets. Then, use the data from tests to identify bottlenecks, which will assist in creating an improvement plan.
Diagnose Issues With Applications and System Access
How and where people work has changed considerably, so it’s understandable the demands on IT teams have as well. A fully engaged (and often equally remote) support desk with proper workflows, automation, and reporting is now mission-critical for business operations, placing increased pressure on the IT teams responsible for helping users stay up and running. These teams need the proper support resources so they can help people in a timely manner without feeling like they have a never-ending to-do list; after all, the last thing anyone—staff and agency alike—wants is for burnout to be yet another consequence of the changes affecting us.
From an IT tools perspective, staff members should be able to lodge tickets through various channels, such as email, support applications, phone, and collaboration tools. Continuously monitoring application and network performance—and each component within—will help IT teams diagnose whether problems reported are due to a lack of bandwidth or are local to the agency.
Meeting the Needs of Today and Tomorrow
The old saying “the only constant is change” may never have been as true. However, the amount of change induced by the pandemic is more than any IT pro could’ve imagined. With smart implementation of monitoring, IT teams can create an environment where business can take place “as usual.” This will help create a frictionless experience for remote workers—accounting for today and whatever the future of remote, hybrid, or in-person working may look like.