With more and more businesses continuing to work from home or allowing flexible remote work, managed services providers (MSPs) are faced with numerous obstacles—ranging from securing a multitude of new endpoints to remotely deploying software—as they work to best support their customers. This guide will outline the top seven IT challenges faced by businesses managing a remote workforce and provide solutions that MSPs can use to tackle them.
How to manage remote workers
Before outlining some of the major IT challenges, here are some tips on how to manage remote workers in an effective and respectful way.
- Establish clear expectations—miscommunications and misunderstandings are far more likely to occur when you aren’t able to have face-to-face conversations with employees. You can achieve this by providing examples of what you expect, a comprehensive brief, and solid deadlines.
- Engage your remote workers on a daily basis—use multiple channels to communicate with them and plan regular, scheduled, face-to-face meetings. Constant interaction will make employees feel more included, important, and engaged.
- Schedule video-based coaching and calls—phone calls and instant messaging can lead to miscommunications. The best way to communicate (when face-to-face isn’t an option) is through video conferencing.
Top 7 IT challenges while transitioning to a remote workforce
No matter how you choose to manage your remote workforce, it is inevitable you will encounter some IT challenges. Here are the top seven IT-related challenges you and your customers are likely to encounter.
1. Ensuring endpoint security
When employees work from home, ensuring their endpoints are secure before they access company assets becomes difficult—but it’s crucial to protecting sensitive data. When endpoints are remote, you can no longer depend on company networks and enterprise-grade firewalls to protect them. The right workforce management software can help you establish an IT-approved, work-from-home policy, easily deploy and manage antivirus solutions, automatically patch endpoint operating systems and software, and configure endpoints to increase physical security (i.e., by enforcing passwords).
2. Rapidly deploying changes
Regardless of whether users are on-premises or remote, it’s always been a priority for your MSP to be able to easily deploy changes—whether that refers to new applications for collaborative purposes or updating software with the latest patches for enhanced security. As more users work from home, however, ensuring they continue to have access to the latest updates to do their jobs can become harder. Rolling out new technologies and changes can be time-consuming and difficult without suitable tools.
In the case of remote workforces, in-person installation isn’t an option, and end-user installations often result in a flood of tedious help desk tickets. A powerful RMM solution allows you to directly roll out applications to individual devices, device groups, or across the entire organization.
3. Establishing secure access
Successful businesses have processes in place to minimize the risk of intellectual property being lost or compromised. Tools that enable secure remote access can help users gain entry to workstations remotely and securely—for example, if a customer needs access to a file that is only saved on the workstation they use in the office. Suited software will also provide granular permissions and auditable logs, ensuring that only authorized individuals can access relevant endpoints.
4. Securing personal devices
Another challenge of transitioning to a WFH is the number of personal devices. Remote workers are more likely to access company assets from multiple devices than local workers. They may, for example, use a combination of their mobile phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop to access information.
The sheer number of unsecured and unvetted devices creates vulnerability. To overcome this challenge, consider implementing an RMM solution that allows you to keep track of the instruments being used to access company information. A work-from-home policy that requires your employees to have an IT-approved security solution installed on their devices is also advisable.
5. Getting started quickly
Transitioning to a remote workforce can take a long time, simply because it requires companies to rethink their entire management approach. If you need to quickly implement a solution, an RMM can speed up the process and reduce the number of resources required.
6. Keeping costs low
To overcome the numerous security challenges, many companies face a considerable number of upfront IT costs. Simply equipping your remote workforce with the tools and resources they need to work from anywhere can be costly. An all-in-one RMM solution can reduce the cost of transitioning significantly, allowing you to add remote workers as necessary, with minimal cost.
7. Preventing data loss
The ability to work from anywhere means employees often take their devices to public spaces (i.e., cafes and libraries). These unsecured networks greatly increase the risk of vulnerability. A strictly enforced IT policy can help prevent data theft and loss from occurring by requiring remote workers to abide by certain policies, like using a VPN and avoiding public Wi-Fi.
Employing the right RMM software
N-able™ N-central® is an all-in-one monitoring and management tool that provides all the features you need to secure remote workforces. It allows you to scale up to managing hundreds or thousands of devices by delivering a powerful solution designed to maximize efficiency and continuously fortify protection. N-central can be deployed quickly, streamlining the transition from local to remote workforce in a rapid, cost-effective way. Key features include, but are not limited to:
- Endpoint detection and response—keeping your customer and user devices secure with proactive alerts
- Ability to remotely monitor desktops, laptops, servers, and mobile devices across operating systems and platforms
- Signature, rule, and behavioral-based scans
- Robust remote access capabilities—allowing your technicians to perform maintenance and fix customer issues without leaving their desks
With advanced security utilities, powerful automation, and proactive alerts, N-central can help you and your customers overcome the challenges of transitioning. A 30-day free trial is available for MSPs ready to learn more.
© 2021 N-able Solutions ULC and N-able Technologies Ltd. All rights reserved.
The N-able trademarks, service marks, and logos are the exclusive property of N-able Solutions ULC and N-able Technologies Ltd. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
This document is provided for informational purposes only. Information and views expressed in this document may change and/or may not be applicable to you. N-able makes no warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information contained herein.