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The future of work for IT teams is supporting hybrid workforces

IT teams don’t always get the credit they deserve for keeping the company running smoothly. They also don’t always have the tools they need to work effectively and provide a seamless experience.

By Susan Lahey, Contributing Writer

Last updated September 20, 2021

Five or 10 years ago, only the most progressive companies had remote workforces staffed by digital nomads who could work from sunlit balconies in exotic places. Most companies were reluctant to go that route – it took a global pandemic to shift their stance. A large reason for their reluctance was the reliance on IT teams and infrastructure. IT makes remote work possible, but hybrid workforces raise new challenges for IT leaders. According to Gartner, in 2021: “The challenge going forward will be funding and rightsizing the appropriate assets to support remote and hybrid workforce models – from individual technologies to real estate.” This next adjustment to support both in- and out-of-office work at scale impacts how IT teams operate going forward, and ultimately the quality of service teams are able to deliver to employees. Zendesk’s 2021 Employee Experience (EX) Trends Report revealed that companies have struggled the most to manage distributed teams, keep employees productive and adjust to new workflows and technologies. And the speed at which new technologies are coming isn’t likely to slow down. In fact, Zendesk research revealed that 90% of tech decision makers said that 2020 accelerated the adoption of digital technology. Companies of all sizes had to figure out the dimensions of remote work, but not just as a one-time response to COVID-19. As we continue to look ahead, Gartner recommends that organisations and CIOs continue to fund digital acceleration. “Organisations that have increased their funding of digital innovation are 2.7 times more likely to be a top performer than a trailing performer”, the report reads. Investment in technology remains key, but so does optimising how IT teams operate, in part by adopting tools that:

  • Automate and simplify processes, utilising self-service and AI

  • Drive efficiency and productivity for employees by keeping them powered with all the tools they need

  • Make help desk interactions easy with simple consumer-like experiences

IT leaders today face a future that doesn’t, and indeed can’t, rely on the past – and a company’s systems and processes must be flexible enough to keep changing.

Top IT priorities for the road ahead

Adopting a solution that can manage myriad points of contact and data in one place creates a more peaceful, secure and productive work experience for employees – but it also frees up IT teams to focus on other imperatives, including:

  1. Change management: Today change is an operational mainstay for every company; not just a major event like a merger or large-scale digital transition. Adopting SaaS tools built for agility enables companies to grow and evolve with minimal disruption.
  2. Asset tracking: Coordinating IT logistics in a remote work environment is overwhelming. The service desk has to know where all hardware and software exists and who has them, through their entire lifecycle. The company’s workflow, and the security of your company, employees and customers depends on this.
  3. Smooth – and secure – workflows: Many security breaches are manifested as users experience issues – when something’s not working the way it’s supposed to. In a remote environment, companies have to deal with connectivity issues, multiple interconnected tools and time zone differences. Removing frustrations and being able to flag issues that require immediate attention is essential for the IT team, the employee experience and your company’s security.
  4. Positive onboarding and offboarding experiences: No company or employee has time to waste on a slow or glitchy onboarding process that keeps them from quickly moving into the organisational stream. Employees need to receive their equipment and learn how to use it so they can feel like part of the team and begin to contribute. On the other end of the employment spectrum, poor offboarding can leave a particularly bad impression, made worse when dealing with a disgruntled employee.

Set your team up to scale for growth

These functions may at times feel like disparate and disconnected functions, but they don’t have to be. The more your team can collaborate and streamline workstreams, the more you can accomplish. With Zendesk for work, IT teams can work together to serve employees across any communication channel – including messaging apps, which saw a strong uptick in use throughout 2020.

It’s possible to start small and scale as you grow – all the way to enterprise level. Supported by a full ecosystem of IT apps, IT teams can customise their needs to give employees the experiences they expect – the kind of easy experience they may not even think twice about – while ensuring that everything else is running smoothly. Take Xero, an accounting software company with 3,500 employees worldwide, whose IT team fields more than 5,000 tickets per month. It took only six weeks to fully implement Zendesk for 270 agents. “In terms of functionality, Zendesk checks all the boxes”, said Hadleigh Lynn, IT Support Team Lead. “Zendesk is a good, enterprise-grade ITSM tool with the look and feel of a consumer-grade application.” By pulling conversations across channels into one central location, IT teams avoid repetitive communication that costs both patience and time. Instead, connected employees have tools that bend to them, rather than the other way around.