Remote working in times of crisis: an IT manager’s perspective

Posted on April 16 2020

Reading time: 5 minutes

The current pandemic crisis has led governments to opt for containment to limit the spread of the virus (Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19). In response to these guidelines and with the purpose of maintaining productivity, several companies have offered their employees the option of working from home.

IT Teams are modern day heroes

However, in this unprecedented context, this has posed a challenge for information technology (IT) departments, which have had to deploy equipment very quickly. We took the opportunity to interview an IT manager using our computer asset management software Hector to learn about the challenges he faced and how he will manage the post-crisis period.

I. Analyze the current situation in order to find solutions

When the government announced that people should stay home, the IT manager had already made sure that everyone could work from home. Because of the structure of his organization, all large files are on an internal network. So he had to provide:

  • Access to a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
  • Assignment of laptops

In their situation, 80% of employees already had access to a laptop, which made it easier for this part of the company to work from home. For the remaining 20%, they are equipped with towers (system unit), difficult to transport to their homes.

Moreover, the company didn’t want the towers to be moved to the employees’ homes for 2 reasons:

  • Business Intelligence: The data present in the system is linked to R&D (Research & Development).
  • Confidential data:  The towers contain sensitive customer data in a service context.

Finally, these towers do not have wireless cards (Wi-Fi networks), which forces the employee to connect to his network with an ethernet cable, and limits his possibilities to setup his work environment (he would be forced to be next to the router).

II. Manage employee requests & company guidelines

Demandes de prêts de matériel auprès des services IT

Everyone with system units asked to have a laptop provided by the company.

“At that point, you need to know what the company currently has in inventory to be able to meet demand quickly,” and to plan the investments that need to be made. With Hector, the IT manager was able to see what equipment was available and ready to be assigned.

Ironically, in these times of crisis, there is a strong demand for equipment, but management is asking to cut all expenses to keep control of the company’s finances.

The advantage is that its IT department uses the “Minimum Stock Quantity” feature in Hector, to ensure that there is always a minimum of laptops / monitors and other items available, in case of high demand, within the inventory.

In its IT department, their belief is to never run out of anything to make sure to satisfy employee’s needs.

III. Quickly retrieve all the available assets in the company

The first challenge, despite the help of minimum stocks, was the fact that the IT department’s reserves couldn’t meet all the employee’s demands.

But quickly with the help of Hector, they could see that equipment was being assigned to training rooms and meeting rooms. They were able to retrieve those equipment, which were no longer needed during the crisis due to the home confinement of employees.

The second challenge was that the IT team needed to know who had the equipment before the crisis or where it was (which staff member, which training/meeting rooms). For the post-crisis period, it will be important to put back the equipment that was requisitioned for a quick return to normal.

In the Hector software, each asset has a movement history, which makes it possible to know the origin of the equipment. It is also possible to plan “returns to default stockrooms” to easily put back in place the equipment within the company.

IV. The unexpected : Special employee requests

Even though the company has a policy of ad hoc remote working, IT staff had some surprises regarding requests for equipment they hadn’t thought of. Indeed, on casual homeworking, employees do not set up an optimal environment to maximize their comfort & productivity.

For example, several employees wanted a second screen for comfort reasons (working on a larger 24″ vs. 14″ screen).

There was therefore a strong demand for this second screen, and all the cables that go with it:

  • DVI / HDMI / Displayport / VGA cables…

For the transport of large volumes of data:

  • Hard drives

To improve collaboration / interaction for file management with Microsoft Teams / Hangouts Meet / Zoom / Skype or any other video conferencing platform:

  • A headset for unified communication

V. How to deal with the post-crisis COVID-19?

Employés qui cherchent leur matériel informatique
When the company will want to restart its activity within the offices, it will be important to not waste any time and act quickly to be fully operational.

IT departments will have to be reactive ! When the business returns to normal, everything will have to be back up and running and ready to go back to the way it was before the crisis.

All equipment that had been borrowed will be returned by employees to the IT department, but won’t be inspected immediately. The department will have to provide feedback on what was broken/lost by employees. Is it related to normal wear and tear, or was there improper use by the employee ? What action will be taken if necessary?

Without an effective inventory management tool, it is difficult to track user history. It is also difficult to know where equipment has been borrowed, which must be put back where it belongs, whether in training and meeting rooms or elsewhere. This is an additional pressure for an IT department that may receive:

  • Guidelines to get the company back up and running as soon as possible…
  • Employee complaints about missing equipment

VI. Be well-equipped to adapt better

Hector, IT asset management system
Hector is a real companion for this IT department, especially for 3 things:

  • Knowing what hardware is available and where it is:

Who has which equipment in their possession ? Which equipment is available right away ? Which equipment is located in what rooms ?
With a few clicks in the asset management software, they were able to get the information for the head office and all satellite offices impacted by the crisis.

  • Know where to return equipment after the crisis:

When the crisis is over, they need to know where the equipment was originally. Also, what can happen in a crisis situation is that people may be laid off. If this is to happen, you need to know what equipment the employee had in his possession.

  • Know the losses and damages of equipment:

With the assets & user history in Hector, IT staff will be able to more easily identify equipment that has been lost by someone.
Moreover, when they check the equipment left by employees, they will be able to identify the person who had the equipment in their possession.

Also, it will be possible to compare the status of the equipment with the information listed in Hector.

A feature that could also have been used in the software in these times of crisis is the “equipment kit”. This functionality allows equipment to be grouped together as a set.

In the context of remote working, it can be used to create a “virtual suitcase” of the components needed for an employee who wishes to work from home.

Example for the virtual suitcase:
Valise virtuelle d'équipement IT

  • A laptop computer
  • A second 24″ screen
  • A headset
  • One HDMI cable
  • A keyboard
  • A mouse
  • A multiport hub

Afterwards, in the software, it is possible to know the assets quantity available in the within the inventory to meet this demand.

Manage your IT inventory with Hector

In a context of unprecedented crisis, it is difficult to anticipate the demands of employees and the needs of the company. However, an adapted inventory management tool will facilitate the reactivity of your IT department and, above all, minimize productivity losses during the crisis. Your company can thus be operational from the first day your business resumes.

Have you also encountered this kind of challenge? Are you well equipped for economic recovery?
Don’t hesitate to try our software or contact us. Our team will be happy to assist you in your inventory management and help you meet your daily challenges!

Start your free 15-day trial to discover its benefits or make an appointment via our contact form or call us at +1 844 780 9922 for more details!

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