In recent years, remote working has shifted from the exception to the new normal, with many employers beginning to acknowledge the advantages of a remote workforce. These advantages include having access to a larger pool of talent to draw from, eliminating the costs of renting a workspace, and increased productivity. In fact, studies have found that remote workers are more productive than office workers, citing only 27 minutes of unproductive time during a work day. Moreover, improved work-life balance results in higher employee retention and satisfaction.
Considering these benefits, it’s no surprise so many managed services providers (MSPs) are choosing to go remote. However, managing a remote team—particularly a remote support team—comes with its own set of challenges. A remote support team must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with other team members and management staff to support customers to the best of their ability. With individuals living in different time zones and working on different schedules, this challenge becomes increasingly difficult to overcome. Effective management of a remote support team should establish a sense of unity and teamwork, even when face-to-face communication isn’t available.
This guide will provide 12 tips, which will help you overcome the challenge of managing a remote support team. These tips will address cultural considerations, in addition to providing practical and technological solutions to problems that are likely to arise.
1. Leverage a messaging platform
An instant messaging platform allows your support agents to communicate with each other instantly. Many instant messaging platforms will allow you to designate “channels” for certain topics or projects. For example, you might have a channel called “Shipping” or “Payments.” This feature keeps communication organized, searchable, and on topic. Another benefit is that all messaging communication can be viewed by support staff and managers, providing accountability and visibility into how your remote support team manages issues.
2. Adopt a help desk tool
A help desk can increase the productivity of your remote support team significantly. Many help desks can help your team prevent email overload, allowing them to turn customer email exchanges into trackable conversations or tickets. Another advantage of using a help desk is the ability to filter and tag requests, keeping your remote support team’s activities organized. You can filter and tag requests by customer, date range, support agent, and customer, making establishing accountability and reporting on the success of your team easy. Reporting is a key benefit of using a help desk tool, providing managers high-level insight into the day-to-day operations of their team.
3. Document all protocols and processes
One of the challenges of managing a remote support team is the lack of face-to-face, onsite training. This challenge can be overcome, in part, by documenting all processes and protocols in detail. This will give your remote support team access to crucial reference material. This documentation should address different types of support requests, communication expectations, payment and vacation, and much more. Documentation of this nature provides an important reference point for your team, minimizing the risk of miscommunication.
4. Consider security credentials
If you choose a remote desktop for IT support or remote support software, take time to evaluate the security credentials of the tool you use. Advanced encryption, multi-factor authentication, and multi-level permissions are key security features.
5. Create security guidelines
Remote support teams will likely encounter different types of security challenges, which is why creating security guidelines is so crucial. Your guidelines should address how to handle working in a public place, using a private computer network, and any other issues you think might affect security while working remotely.
6. Allow for general chat
An important part of managing a remote support team is creating a strong sense of company culture. One of the ways you can do this is by providing a communication channel exclusively for general and personal chat, allowing your team to connect on an interpersonal level beyond work.
7. Create a statement of values
A mission statement, or statement of your values, doesn’t need to be complicated or lengthy. Keep it short and clear, communicating your values so your remote support team can identify with your company more strongly, even from a distance. Such statements can bring your team together and foster a sense of common purpose despite a distributed workforce.
8. Offer perks
Think carefully about how you can offer your remote support team perks and benefits. For example, in the form of a free online subscription to a content platform or popular tool. Such benefits can be a great way of incentivizing your team and finding ways to offer perks like on-premises teams.
9. Host annual gatherings
Whenever possible, consider hosting an in-person meet-up to allow the chance to foster better communication and deeper bonds within your team. An annual event or trip can give your remote support team the chance to get to know each other better and increase team cohesion.
10. Host regular one-to-one meetings
Many remote workers express that their jobs can feel isolating at times. Group meet-ups and annual trips are best complemented by regular one-to-one meetings, which can help boost team morale and retention.
11. Make the most of video conferencing
If distance is an issue that can’t be easily overcome, consider substituting in-person meetings with phone calls or video chats. While video conferencing became the norm during the height of social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, it can and should be used regularly during all remote work to increase accountability and foster communication.
12. Use a remote access tool
A remote access tool with unattended access capabilities allows your team to connect to customer devices in just a few seconds and support them without requiring any intervention from end users. Remote desktop for IT support teams can improve the speed and efficiency of your team’s support services significantly, in addition to boosting customer retention and satisfaction—and all from nearly anywhere.
Getting started with remote support software
To effectively manage a remote support team, you must ensure you’re providing your employees with the right tools to enable productivity and efficiency. SolarWinds® Take Control is a comprehensive remote support and remote access software for MSPs of all sizes. It’s scalable, user-friendly, and built to facilitate fast and intuitive remote support to nearly any platform.
Take Control includes attended and unattended support, connects to devices in under eight seconds, supports iOS and Android mobile devices, and can be branded to make sure your MSP is always at the top of your customers’ minds. With powerful troubleshooting tools, live chat, and rapid file transfers, Take Control is the ideal solution for MSPs looking to empower their remote support team and better serve their customers. A 14-day free trial is available for MSPs interested in learning more.