person waving hello with their  shadow waving back on a teal wall
PHOTO: Ioana Cristiana

Organizations across the globe are adapting to this stressful and difficult time, with many asking workers to work from home for the first time. While working from home may be the norm for some, for most workers, remote work is an occasional perk or something they have little to no experience with. This is also true for IT teams, who may have subsets of workers who work from home full-time or on a regular basis, but who are seeing a major increase of stress on systems as workers shift how they interact with organizational systems.

This is especially important as external authentications from various user devices — and there will certainly be many more variations and added devices during this time — will stress the bandwidth and resources of every online service, be they on-premises or in the cloud. Microsoft Teams and other applications have already experienced delays and service outages ostensibly due to the increase in traffic volume and variety.

Below are five recommendations for IT teams to help deal with the changes in user behavior during this crisis.

Reach Out to Organizational Stakeholders and Team Leads on a Regular Basis

Tech leads and organizational stakeholders are often among those who hadn't worked from home much in the past. Communication is therefore vital with  these people, as they can also muster the power to help deal with IT crises issues that may pop up. Don’t wait until there's an error or service outage before communicating.

Try to establish a regular cadence and send a chat or email at least once a day to maintain interpersonal connectivity. Do the best you can to determine and keep track of availability — and remember: don't only rely on the job title to understand who the best person to contact will be.

Remain Vigilant and Monitor Internal Systems

If there was ever a time to be proactive about testing and monitoring internal systems and applications, this is it. There will be increased stress across the internet, especially for any servers supporting or connected to external facing networks or VPNs. Be hyper vigilant and proactive to make certain you can be on top of any outages or systems failures that may occur. It’s also best practice to be proactive in communicating outages to users and stakeholders within the organization.

Related Article: The Remote Working Pendulum Swings Again: 9 Lessons Learned

Stay on Top of Cloud Platform System Notifications and Updates

Chances are, your cloud hosted platforms may be affected by the increased volume of usage during this time. Set up and monitor additional alerts and notifications for cloud service outages if possible and set up time to be proactive about communicating outages and prepping for alternate functions. Anyone in IT knows having a plan and being proactive takes time but can deliver exponential returns if you stave off disaster and communicate quickly. Again, it’s also very important to be hyper-vigilant in communicating outages to users and stakeholders as quickly as possible.

Related Article: COVID-19 Puts Company Cultures to the Test

Push Reminders for Internal Policies, Best Practices and Suggest Trainings

Especially for sets of users who don’t traditionally work from home, now is the perfect time for refresher trainings and letting them know about new features that are available to support collaborative productivity. One friendly email pointing users in the right direction to helpful resources may tip the scales toward productivity for an employee who is new to working from home. Be sure to send out friendly reminders to stakeholders to refresh any role-specific training they may have, and contact your tech evangelists, power users, adoption community members and so on, to encourage them to check in frequently with their peers to see if they need help.

Related Article: The Role of Influencers in Change Management

Take the Opportunity to Build Relationships

Now is an excellent time to build relationships and help organizational morale. Reach out to friends or acquaintances to simply confirm everything is working OK. Be proactive and informal (but professional) when you check in with stakeholders. We have seen many IT departments improve morale and productivity immensely by working with marketing or HR teams to deliver fun and helpful messages or training to their organizations. Now may be the perfect time to establish relationships that can help everyone succeed.

Remember: A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way

Be proactive and be kind.

In the medium-term, some people and companies will be saved by IT departments who can increase productivity without additional burden to the budget. Now is the time for IT to shine and prove that technology is not an expense, it is an investment.

Though this is true, now is also a time when IT teams can establish better relationships across the board.

Many people are under stress that we are unaware of, and we all have stresses of our own. This is always true, but those stresses are amplified in times like these. A little bit of unexpected or even undue kindness can go a long way to improve someone’s quality of life.

Though it’s true IT may tip the scales toward productivity that could save some jobs or even potentially keep an organization from going under, that cannot happen without a lot of teamwork.

Let’s all be the best team members we can be.