Australia is currently amidst the largest workplace revolution we have ever seen and for some companies, this has continued to be a real challenge. IT teams have had to evolve, with little warning. How have they done it? I have spoken with a number of IT leaders within the Public Sector to see how they have tackled these issues and adapted to the “new norm”. 

Whilst a lot of organisations have been moving towards cloud base applications, the prominent challenge has been bandwidth, mass deployment and the number of IT resources required when the decision was made to have all staff work from home. 

Moving Out Of The Office 

Fortunately, some clients found they were well prepared for the unexpected transition, many had the capability to work Adhoc from home but were not geared up for the whole organisation to be 100% working from home. The issue of limitations of bandwidth are front and centre, many clients are struggling with connectivity from home and speed consistency. 

I found in my research that improving capacity can be a challenge.  People need to manage usage of home internet or increase their plan options with multiple people at home at the same time. In other cases, it may require new systems or hardware to be installed which can take months to complete, but with cloud-based systems, it can make this easier. Those who architected their systems to allow for quick scalability and elasticity have found this transition much smoother than others who haven’t.      

In some cases, IT support was a personal or face to face arrangement. When all staff move to remote working, processes and tools need to evolve as well including troubleshooting via remote desktop connectivity or video conferencing.  Sometimes this extends to the equipment being used at home which is not familiar to the IT teams (such as home printers)

Hardware has been another challenge with limited laptops. There has been a rush to deploy these to get staff out of the office, some have even sent staff home with their monitors and computers. Stand up/sit down desks, Mobile/Softphones, headsets and printers were also needed in large quantities. 

Getting The Best Out Of Staff 

IT Helpdesks have been inundated with queries from end-users on how to use their laptops, how to log on remotely, how to access VPN and password resets. With not all staff having worked remotely before, this saw support calls go for much longer having to train staff remotely. 

IT teams have created simple ‘How To’s” and FAQ documentation to assist with the lower-level tasks which has since reduced the ticket volumes along with frequent training sessions via Video Conferencing.

Physical Distance, Emotional Connection

Having an emotional connection and having the ability to keep in touch is now more important than ever. Every leader that I spoke with has had to increase their video conferencing licenses. Microsoft Teams has been the product of choice within Local Government with other Public Sector organisations investing in Zoom, Webex and Skype For Business. 

Face to face interaction is key to keeping team engagement, whether it be the whole team or 1-1 catch-ups on a regular basis. Clients have found scheduling 1 to 2 meetings a week in staff diaries keeps the team feeling supported, others use a daily 15-minute session not focussed on work discussion but rather team activities like a quiz. 

What will the “New Norm” Look Like? 

Previously organisations have been reluctant to have certain roles work part-time or working remotely. Many leaders think that time has now passed, seeing the output and benefits of remote working will see the workforce take a shift and will be much more flexible when we return to “normal life”. With work-life balance becoming more and more important to candidates, this has the hopes to be able to hire and retain better talent in the future.  

Whilst the influx of tickets have slowed down now that majority of staff have shifted out of the office, clients predict in the future they will be a need to bring interim IT support staff in on a short term basis to help migrate everyone back into the office. This includes Service Desk, Desktop and Deployment roles having a spike in the market.