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Providing support is one of the greatest IT challenges of any telework program. To the extent possible, try to take support and troubleshooting activities out of the hands of teleworkers - it is not their job.

The extent of support required will be influenced by the level and variety of technology used by teleworkers. Support requirements may be different depending on whether teleworkers are using equipment provided by the organization versus their own equipment. Under what conditions, if any, and to what extent, can the organization provide support for employee-owned equipment? Is the equipment still under warranty? Is the organization exposed to any liability when working on employee-owned equipment? If the problem involves Internet connectivity, who is authorized to contact the Internet Service provider?

The size of support program will depend on the level of support supplied and the number of teleworkers. As the number of teleworkers increases, the program will need to scale up. Keep in mind that in the case of teleworkers, there is often a need for quick response. Although teleworkers should be prepared to do some work that isn't totally dependent on technology, in reality most are highly dependent on their computers in order to keep working.

IT support starts with helping employees get set up to telework. This may include providing them with some or all of what they need to do their job remotely, including configuring the software on their PC. Consider efforts up front that will reduce calls for support later on. If installing and configuring software, including anti-virus software and firewalls, initially will reduce demands on IT, it may be worth the effort. Consider what IT's involvement will be in installing software updates, operating system updates, or the deployment of new versions of an application.

Education may be required: teleworkers may need training on information handling, security procedures, new communication and collaboration tools, guidelines for setting up their email client to access corporate email, or what to do if they need help. The entire IT team needs to understand the telework program, and ensure that they are prepared to support its success.

Once teleworkers are up and running, situations will likely arise where a help is needed to diagnose or fix a problem. There may be different support paths for teleworkers using organization-issued equipment versus those using their own equipment. These paths should be documented and communicated to all teleworkers.

Some questions to consider:

  • How much support will the organization provide - particularly related to employee-owned equipment?
  • Will onsite support be provided or only remote support?
  • What hours will support be available? Via phone? Email? Ticketing system?
  • What kind of troubleshooting tools can be made available for teleworkers - online help, tutorials, FAQs?

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This page was last updated on May 6, 2009