Service Desk Working from Home Desk

A Shortlist of Strategies Our Customers Are Using to Manage their IT Service Desks During COVID-19

There’s a new normal for business operations that’s been created by the growing uncertainty caused by COVID-19. To respond, many of our clients in IT, HR, customer support, and finance are now adding responsibilities to provide critical operational support for their organizations.

In light of federal and state measures that limit people’s movement, organizations are facing new tech challenges alongside a host of minor needs that come from all parts of the company. You now, more than ever, need to understand your business, which key areas are the most important to your customers and user profiles, and what you need to be productive.

We’re getting a lot of questions from clients asking for tips and effective solutions we’ve seen other clients find to address current challenges IT departments are facing. The most common of which is how do other companies (and how should we) prioritize everything coming in?

As all workers deemed non-essential are told to stay home and organizations shift to working remotely, helpdesks are inundated with increased demand and adjusting priorities – it’s not just the sheer volume, but the types of challenges they are facing that make them hard to prioritize.

However, with more people working from home than ever before, helpdesks are also seeing an influx of standard requests to help enable employees to work remotely safely and effectively, such as:

  • Setting up login(s)
  • Forgotten passwords
  • Prioritization of executive requests
  • Finding equipment to send in a supply chain interruption
  • Hardware assistance (ie: I’ve never worked from home before and can’t figure out my headphones..)

As an IT Service Desk leader, you’re trying to solve for several things while supporting your staff and clients. With that constituency, there are a lot of “most important things” on your to-do list in a crisis. If fact, even when we asked our delivery team in slack what advice to offer, we counted 15+ “first steps” – depending on your history and paradigm.

Thankfully, your approach doesn’t need to be (and shouldn’t be) single-threaded. Think about adopting a multi-pronged approach, which would involve:

  • Call flow and basic blocking and tackling.
  • Best resources and knowledge management
  • ID your quick hitters

Getting Started With Your Own Crisis Management


 Remember – Impact + Urgency = Priority. Make sure that your first responders understand how to assess Impact and Urgency for your company. This way you ensure every request is properly prioritized.

*Here’s a quick definition of Impact and Urgency as well: ‘Urgency’ is a measure of how quickly a resolution of the Incident is required. ‘Impact’ is a measure of the extent of the Incident and of the potential damage caused by the Incident before it can be resolved.*

Need some help deciding which Incidents to prioritize? Take the time to step back and look at what types of requests are coming in. Organize them into three categories:

  1. Simple and anyone can do
  2. Complex but anyone can do
  3. Complex and requires the Help Desk

After you’ve created a system to sort requests and put them into the correct categories, mobilize some resources to help alleviate each one.

Arm the Team for Battle

Ensure your Service Desk teams have the right tools to handle the requests that come to them. Ensure you have accurate Knowledge Articles with their internal solutions so that they can reduce their time to resolution, and clear knowledge available for escalation paths so that tickets don’t sit around.

Automate what you can to shift some of the burdens off your IT team. If 75% of the requests coming in are login/password reset issues, automate that with either the enterprise solution you have or by setting up an IVR.

Remote support and control tools are lifesavers. Use them. But be flexible. Even when Zoom isn’t working, a simple video chat on Facebook Messenger or Facetime is helpful. And a welcome opportunity for human connection.

Finally, if solutions are found that aren’t cataloged, get those solutions into Knowledge Management. This is a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty. You don’t want to lose any of the great solutions your team comes up within the shuffle.

Aren’t You Glad You Use Knowledge?

Knowledge Management as a whole should be accessible to both End Users with articles and videos and the Service Desk with targeted and valuable information. Partner with Marketing and other Departments to ensure all of the relevant information is available in a concise, uniform manner and reduce the “noise” load on the overwhelmed Service Desk.

1.) Ensure there are Knowledge Articles available, including very clear step-by-step instructions and pictures. Partner with the most technical people in each Department to help lift the burden on the Service Desk by creating a designated point of contact for each Department.

2.) Partner with the Marketing Department to make Help Videos to be used internally. These can be screencasts or even a recorded session of a user interacting with a program for elements that may be more physical than simply software. Get those on the Knowledgebase as well, and heavily publicize them internally.

Empathy Is Key

That means you need patience and willingness to work together … times 100. People skills always weigh stronger than technical skills in times of strife.

And we don’t just mean patience for your clients. Remember – one of the core challenges in IT Help Desk support is that they are used to a bullpen environment where you can yell out a question and five people within earshot will answer you. Keep your team a team and shift focus to open, consistent communication. Encourage phone and video chat to bring a sense of connection and normalcy to the team. Try to keep schedules consistent but understand personal schedules may change now that your employees are no longer “in house.”

Finally, remember that right now, some of us are trying to save lives. Does your issue help save lives? If not, maybe it can wait.