Your business must not suffer from the consequences of the pandemic and has to transcend the limitations posed by it. More offices are closing down and businesses are starting to operate online.
Most businesses were caught off-guard and had limited time to adjust to the new situation. Moving to a remote environment is a delicate process and without considering the complete picture, it might not function successfully.
The good news is that there are practical ways to put everything in place and seriously improve the quality of the work done, communication and customer and employee satisfaction!
Operating a successful remote company, Support Adventure, for 4 years, we are well aware of the insecurities, challenges and advantages that come with this type of environment and are happy to share our secrets and insights! We’ve made matches for 40 MSPs with our best talent worldwide for expert, dedicated service and saw both parties increase their and the wellbeing of the company.
Overcoming the challenges of switching to an online working environment will be so rewarding!
When we are at an office, there are constant distractions. The phone might be ringing constantly, a colleague who just wants to chat with us when we are busy walking up to us, and not to mention the commute to work that is making us feel horrible because of course the traffic is a disaster yet again.
Working remotely, we can invest the time we would spend commuting into ourselves or our work. It will save our precious peace of mind that is being challenged constantly today. Within the comfort of our home, cozy and concentrated we are ready to give our best and apply our undivided attention to doing great work.
It takes unnecessary stress out of the equation leaving space for creativity and productivity to blossom to their fullest.
2. Working from home decreases the companies’ expenses and risks
Renting an office can be pricey. With the office come the office material, electrical bills, transportation fees, space maintenance… to name a few. Company inventory is a big part of the investment and you can make sure it does not go to waste while starting to operate online by setting it up at your employees’ homes, renting it or finding another purpose.
Having a group of people in one place and counting on them to show up can be risky. With a mild cold, an employee should not be coming to the office and put others in danger and even with great caution, it often can’t be avoided.
Employees not being able to make it to the office will work from home if they are able, yes. If this practice is something out of the ordinary for your business it might suffer greatly and stop the workflow.
Avoid this by setting up a productive remote environment that will be more secure and stable, the right way from the start.
3. Working online gives you an opportunity to hire the best talent worldwide!
Don’t be limited to the people in your immediate surroundings. Online working is a fertile ground and allows for finding the best people to work with you without the limitations of proximity. Widen your range of specialists and enrichen your company culture by finding and hiring the best remote talent!
The demand and offer of workforce and businesses vary greatly from region to region, from country to country. A great engineer might be looking for a prospective company to work with and yours might just be the right match for them! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to better your business and contact our founder Eric, or checkout our service or staffing offerings to find dedicated support technicians.
At Support Adventure, which operates 100% online, we are successfully testing, training and on-boarding new members for years. Through our detailed process we test and train talented individuals to ensure they will be compatible and can fit in seamlessly into a remote MSP environment. In a video interview, the technician will present themselves to the company and if there is a spark, start working for the company. In the on-boarding process we will be there to make sure that the needs of both sides are met.
We’ve successfully connected our technicians with 40 MSPs, thanks to the values and procedures we, our technicians, and our 50 remote members follow, we’ve seen our staff and clients grow and transform. The values and procedures that helped us achieve that are proven to be the best practices, especially in an online environment. We encourage our clients to adopt these practices accordingly for the best results and environment.
Among, many other, they can be split into 5 categories
- Time tracking
- Everything in writing
- Goal posts and incentives
- Group huddles
- Communication and escalation
4. Employees not working when unsupervised is every employers nightmare
One of the biggest fears companies have that deters them for moving to an online environment is that they don’t really know what their team is actually doing and if they are actually doing some work for the company.
This is an understandable issue companies might face, but luckily there are ways to overcome this issue in a way that will create trust and accountability.
- Time tracking
Using software for virtual clocking-in like TSheets will track the time your employees start and finish working. When they are ready to work, instead of clocking in when they arrive at the office they will press a button when they are at their workstations at home and ready to work
Creating a Google Sheet document where they record their progress during the day, your employees can put down the type of work, the amount and the evidence of work done.
Holding your staff accountable by guiding them to follow checklists, daily tasks and responsibilities. Look at the goal post set for them and how close or far they are from it.
Idle time can be used creatively for productive work. When your team has down time, create an open document with arbitrary tasks they can do!
Use it to:
- Check the documentation is up to date
- Update user lists
- System maintenance
- Check log-in credentials are valid, etc.
Utilizing these methods will easily tell you if your staff is actually doing the work. It will be evident then if they are accountable, doing good work and using up their time productively.
We believe that every minute 100% time tracking is not healthy for both the company and the staff. Instead use measures of 15 minute increments and allow for 20% untracked time for the wellbeing of your staff. Allow them to regain their focus so that they can dedicate their undivided attention to doing a great job! We are only human and need to firstly feel good to be able to do good. Setting unattainable standards will demotivate your staff.
You’ve noticed that we put a lot of attention to written documentation and that is because it is the most reliable method of making sure that everybody is on the same page literally, and know what is expected of them – how does it look like when they are doing a good job.
From the company’s side, that means writing clear procedures and standards that will allow the workflow to unravel unobstructed.
- Keep everything in writing to ensure integrity and consistency, the 2 most important criteria
The procedures you utilize, the way you use software, how you communicate internally, externally, proper ways to escalate issues and the right address to do it should make up the great majority of the documentation.
Avoid micromanaging and policing, the bad practices that are distracting everybody from focusing on the work.
Make sure that there is no ambiguity in the documentation and present it in a holistic way, with comprehensive guides on the important points in your business.
When constructing this document, pay attention to:
- Job distribution and responsibilities – clear scope of the work needed for each position and their boundaries.
- Hierarchy – who is the direct contact for each position and how should they reach them and in which situations.
- Rewards and repercussions – incentivise good and productive work from your staff. Make them feel appreciated by incentivising mentoring, good documentation, or most tickets solved.
- Hours, time tracking – set attainable standards for time tracking requirements and give space for varying working hours. Life is unpredictable, alleviate stress by creating a comfortable environment
- Escalation policy and emergency threshold – clearly set the threshold of emergency that rings all bells in your company and the procedure to be followed in those times.
- Communication policy – guide your staff to the right way to reach the CEO, their managers. Which communication channel should they use for urgent and non-urgent matters?
- Documentation policy – what is documented and in which way.
- System and Software – create a robust list of software used, how to install it and in which manner to use it. Different MSPs use the same software in a different way.
- Security policy – If you don’t have one, we strongly suggest you employ one ASAP. Use software like ITGlue to ensure your and customers’ data and credentials are safe.
Create a way your staff can check the authenticity of the customers calling-in and their requests.
- Auxiliary tasks – a sheet with all the arbitrary tasks that should be done to keep the business in top-shape.
Having everything in writing will be so helpful when onboarding new staff members! With our great experience, we’ve made a comprehensive guide on the right way to onboard new staff members with practical tips and links here!
5. Motivate your staff to increase the well being of the business by creatively applying incentives
Who doesn’t like extra notes as a recognition of their hard work? Benefits that come with incentivising effort have been recognized long ago. Now, you have a chance to gamify the approach and use them in a creative way! It doesn’t need to be a monetary reward but also a coupon, a card, an experience… anything that comes to your mind that can lift your staff’s spirit
Reaching the goal post and exceeding it can certainly be a valid reason for a small bonus. Other than that, there are other little things you can incentivise that are greatly overlooked but serve an important goal of benefiting the company immensely and thoroughly:
You have a junior helpdesk technician working on a ticket. He can not solve it, unfortunately, and escalates it further so it reaches a senior technician. That senior then solves the ticket, writes robust notes and escalates it back down to the junior technician that then knows how to solve the issue the next time he encounters it. This will enrich both technicians’ knowledge. With one, it is related to how to solve a ticket, with the other, the right way to communicate.
Another benefit is that it strengthens cooperation and team spirit!
Keep track and reward the technician that has the highest number of return escalated tickets.
- Tickets solved
What better motivation for technicians to tackle tickets with expedity and determination than gamifying the approach and getting the winner with the most solved tickets to get a reward!
Be careful with this approach since it can result in technicians cherry-picking the tickets, choosing the straightforward, easy ones. To prevent this and for more benefits in different areas, consider hiring a dispatcher or a help desk coordinator.
At the end of the month or quarter, the technician with the most solved tickets gets a prize!
- Flaws in documentation
In down-time have your technicians go over documentation and look for outdated or missing documentation. This will encourage them to invest more time in getting what is needed in contrast to just skimming the surface and in result have an immaculate documentation.
The person who found the most flaws gets an incentive!
- Positive customer feedback
Caring for customers can be a difficult task and a heavy responsibility. Great customer service is the most valuable asset for a company! Cherish the staff members that can achieve the most positive feedback that is oh so important for departments throughout the company!
Track the feedback and applaud great customer service! The motivation will strengthen the good practice your staff has been using to achieve satisfaction with customers.
6. Keep the spirits high and the company strong remotely in a fun and easy way
Your staff spends 8 or more hours a day working with your company, 5 or more days a week. Especially these days, when we are encouraged to stay isolated, make a warm gesture to make them feel like they are truly an integral part of their work environment and a valuable team mate.
Lift up their spirits and give them space to exchange interesting ideas, funny stories and bond with their colleagues. The time they invest in the business will then be more meaningful and their efforts recognized.
Have weekly zoom meetings where, apart from business, you have a chunk of time spent on lighthearted chatt. Utilize some zoom hacks for inspiration
In meetings like these, where people are free to express themselves and be creative, bright ideas can come up! There can be space for:
- Improving systems and procedures
- Expressing gratitude and praise
- Strengthening cooperation
People might feel lonely, or uncared for. Brightening someone’s day and offering a safe environment to express themselves is priceless and a great practice of great remote MSPs.
Anonymous feedback is another good practice you should adopt. It offers a safe space for your staff to vent and give you insight into some problems you were not aware of before.
Don’t avoid positive criticism since it has great potential and can be valuable for improving your services, product or environment.
- Bring order to chaos by correctly escalating issues and communicating without interference
Ticketing systems are the most commonly used ways of dealing with client requests and are a great practice because:
- They ensure an ownership based system
- Create easier access to information
- Keep track of issues so they can be solved faster
- Ease the escalation process and accountability
Ticketing systems like Freshdesk, Zendesk, Connectwise, Atlassian’s Jira provide a great base for creating, tracking and solving customer requests. However, the much more important thing is how you use those tools
We’ve created a ticket note writing guide to help you with essential requirements for good ticket notes to be created. Download it for free here!
Communicate clearly using different communication channels for different situations
Using chat for escalation or relying on emails will not be working well in a company with more than 10 members.
Constant pinging noise from chat or missed emails can be a danger creating distraction and misunderstandings.
A distraction-free environment should be a priority when caring about your technicians and improving the work-flow! Ring-groups are devastating for both the technicians and your business. Avoid making a mistake we’ve seen so many MSPs make and hire a dispatcher or a help-desk coordinator.
An important part of the written guide for your online business should be the proper communication.
Be up to date and yet not overwhelmed by the amount of information received and having to deal with it in times that are not the best for it.
|Chat||Video meeting booked in advance|
|Email with URGENT as a subject||Ticketing system|
Create an emergency threshold, an instance that will ring all bells in your company, such as a security breach, that will get all hands on deck. Using Pagerduty is a great way to achieve that.
Set customer expectations right to build consistency and trust
Knowing what to expect will create a feeling of trust with your clients.
If you break the trust and the promise you give to your clients, be it a fast service, great staff, or anything else, you will experience a major push-back and end up with a disappointed customer.
Building integrity and consistency in work will make your business go a long way. Empower your customers to be able to solve somethings by themselves and feel cared for.
- Creating Help Center articles
- Give options for different communication channels
- Self diagnose by filling in a questionnaire
- Set expected time for a solution
|The urgency of the Issue||Best way to communicate||Expected solution time|
|Blocker or Critical||Phone call||Depending on the issue|
|Not affecting crucial points||Live chat/email||End of the day|
|Trivial, advice, inquiry||Day/Two|
Company culture is something to be valued and improved constantly
Make a document where you state the values and goals of the company so that your staff can get onboard with it and encompass the company spirit.
What kind of traits do you appreciate in your staff? Does your company embody more of a professional or a laid-back demeanor? What about holidays?
All the small things that make the big picture will become known to your staff through a document you’ve created, with time and through communicating with other staff members and simply working with your company.
Operating online will be better with this 9 work from home hacks to increase productivity!
Make sure you dedicate your attention to some of the most important points in keeping a successful online MSP:
- Ticketing systems
- Distraction free environment
- The right staff
Have you need to improve any of the above, we are here for you! We offer free consultations because we believe improving your business will bring benefit to a lot of people and that makes us happy.
Book a meeting and talk with our founder, Erik, for staffing options, documentation keeping and high level engineers
If you are looking for a job – apply here!