Setting up home office workplaces as an IT admin

The typical challenges that face IT administrators when setting up a home office for all employees

Setting up a a home office has been the exception rather than the rule in Germany or in Europe generally . But that has changed with the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the exception is becoming the rule in large parts of the country as many IT departments are currently being instructed to set up more home office workplaces. At Deskcenter, we’ve switched to working from home for now too and have moved our IT step by step to our employees’ home offices. Here you can find out all you need to know about the challenges involved in making this transition and how we overcame each of them.

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Setting up a home office – many companies here are unprepared

We Germans are only mid-table compared with other Europeans when it comes to working from home. At least according to a study conducted by the German Economic Institute and another carried out by the Institute for Employment Research. In Germany, only one employee in every ten normally avails of the option of working from home.

But then everything changed at the beginning of March 2020. Many companies were forced to allow their employees to work from their home offices to protect them from coronavirus and to comply with the Federal Government’s restrictions on movement. But the fact of the matter is that many companies were not at all prepared for this change. According to a survey conducted in March 2020 by the German Digital Media Association, just under half of the German companies had preparations in place allowing employees to work from home. Accordingly, IT administrators are finding it particularly tough right now because most of the organizational and technical effort involved in setting up mobile end devices is falling on their shoulders. Read on to find out the challenges we encountered when setting up home office workplaces and find out what tips our IT Manager Robert has to offer.

Challenges when setting up a home office

    1. Set up all home office workplaces as quickly as possible

Time is a precious commodity when setting up mobile workplaces. And we were able to save time by checking the hardware assigned to each and every employee in our IT Asset Management solution. This allowed us to quickly see which employees already had all the technology they needed to work from home and which did not,

  1. Not all employees have laptops

    When we analyzed our current hardware inventory, it emerged that not all of our employees had their own laptop. This meant we had to procure new laptops for those who did not already have one. As our stock levels are also inventoried thanks to our Deskcenter software, we could see very quickly how many laptops we had in stock and avoid any unnecessary purchases.

    1. Set up new laptops as quickly as possible

We then had to quickly install standardized operating systems and applications on the laptops. Thanks to our IT management solution, the Deskcenter Management Suite, both the operating system and the relevant software packages were automatically rolled out to the devices and configured within a matter of hours.

    1. Distribute smartphones to employees too

    Part of setting up home office workplaces was to equip our employees with smartphones also. These end devices also required a standardized configuration as well as company-specific apps, such as the authentication app for the VPN client. We also needed to make sure that every single company smartphone had a pre-configured email client and an instant messaging function. Our Mobile Device Management solution came in useful here, enabling us to automate these otherwise time-consuming tasks.

    1. Document the distributed assets

    Finally, we used an inventory solution to document all assets to ensure that we know exactly which employees have been assigned which assets.

Challenges after setting up a home offices for all employees

  1. Handle individual requests

We declared the Service Desk as a central single point of contact for service requests and service incidents. This means that user requests sent by email or via the web front end are recorded in one central location and processed quickly thanks to precise and well-documented processes. It also means that nothing slips under the radar and users can check the status of their requests at any time. Phone contact with employees means that help is quickly at hand in the form of remote support initiated directly from the ticket. As a result, there are no unnecessary questions about the ID of the computer or about the software because the software inventory and configurations are clearly specified in the ticket. This saves our internal IT admin time and effort.

    1. Home office workplaces and security

IT security is another topic that cannot afford to be forgotten in a home office. An up-to-date daily overview of Microsoft and non-Microsoft patch statuses is just as important as enabling a high degree of automation by using software rules and patch management rules. After a short, successful test phase, patches can then be deployed to the relevant end points via VPN connection or a private cloud. This clearly demonstrates that no matter whether clients are used within the company or in home offices, the right tool makes IT security possible everywhere.

Screenshot des Deskcenter Service Desk
  1. Roll out specific applications for individual employees after setup

    We made additional applications available in our Service Desk self-service portal. This allowed us to reduce the workload for our IT department because the software is available there on an ad-hoc basic for all employees to use, anytime and anywhere, and is installed automatically on their end devices.

Typical error messages when setting up a home office – for example “VPN connection is too slow”

When setting up a home office for all our Deskcenter employees, we unfortunately encountered our fair share of error messages. The most frequent error message was that the VPN connection was too slow. Many IT administrators face this same challenge when everyone in the company needs to work from home. However, we quickly overcame this obstacle thanks to our suite of products, as Robert reports:

„Following a targeted analysis during the problem management phase, we identified the cause of the problem and rolled out a configuration for the clients via deployment. We then completed a two-step testing process in our internal IT and consulting departments. Thanks to the clarity provided by Deployment Management, monitoring of the systems with the new configuration was very transparent. Due to the architecture of the Deskcenter Management Suite, we didn’t even need to use a VPN connection. All we needed was a private cloud, from which the configuration was loaded and installed automatically using the Deskcenter SDI Agent and a repository (software distributor). This is where the Workflow Designer came into play. With relatively little scripting, we were able to model the workflow and execute the installation as well as the registry and file operations using the execution plan we created. The users themselves knew nothing about this and simply noticed that the VPN connection was much faster.“

Deskcenter Home-Offices sind eingerichtet

At this point, we wish to extend a huge thanks to our IT Manager Robert, who very quickly made it as easy as possible for all employees – who don’t normally work from home – to continue doing their job.


This might also interest you.

Setting up a home office for all employees can involve a lot of risks. Read now our other expert articles about that topic or take a look at our mobile device management tool. Furthermore you can find out more about the Deskcenter Service Desk, which helps you to optimize your IT service management effectively.

 

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