Getting help "virtually" anywhere
June 2, 2020
With many of IPF’s staff working remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there’s more reliance on technology that allows us to continue our work wherever we might be. But what happens when remote staff need IT help and assistance might be miles away?
Designed in a collaboration between IPF and MSU IT to provide help to those remote workers and minimize contact between IPF IT staff and those still working on site, the IPF Virtual Tech Bar is an easy-to-use system that generates a service ticket after users answer just a few brief questions.
“Our goal was to make an online system that was just as easy as walking into our office,” said Allen Scheck, IPF information technologist.
Immediately after a user enters a request in the tech bar system, IPF IT staff receive a group notification on Microsoft Teams, where they can collaborate on a solution, assign the ticket and contact the employee requesting help. The tech bar is staffed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“Teams is amazing – we can do video calls to look at hardware, share screen access and even request remote control of a user’s computer,” Scheck said. “Where Teams isn't an option, TeamViewer also helps us easily remote into any computer.”
For those needing assistance that cannot be done remotely, and for those IPF staff who are working on-site, there remains a small team staffing the IPF IT office (IPF 123), but help is available by appointment only, and special precautions have been taken to safeguard all involved.
“A protective shield has been installed at our service counter, and our staff are using the necessary protective equipment – masks, gloves and wipes,” Scheck said. “We are all taking the IPF Return-to-Work training and have been following the pre-work health screening policy.”
He added, “We have also arranged our seating so that nobody shares a cubicle or an office, with a maximum of three staff on-site to minimize exposure.” Even after most IPF staff return, the continued importance of minimizing physical contact will result in the Virtual Tech Bar being available for some time.
“We've found some of the things we regularly do in person are actually easier to do remotely, so it may continue to be a part of our regular operations even after the pandemic is no longer a concern,” Scheck said.
Regardless of how they provide service, one thing remains the same – a genuine desire to help fellow members of Team IPF.
“We are continually looking for ways to improve and encourage honest feedback about our systems and the services we offer,” Scheck added.