Home Working is Changing the Shape of Service Desk Demand

by Markos Symeonides, on 05-Jun-2020 12:21:26

Close up low angle view of a man working from home on a laptop computer sitting at a desk surfing the internet

Millions of people are working at home for the first time for weeks now—some are working for organizations that previously told them that “It can’t be done”. Now that this misconception has been disproved, when this situation is all over, millions of first-time home workers will want to continue working at home; particularly people who live further away from your corporate offices and lose hours every day to commuting.

Organizations are Warming to Home Working

Having been forced to face the reality of home working—and realizing that things haven’t fallen to pieces—many organizations are warming to the idea that more of their workforce could be full time or part time home workers.

They ‘re discovering that they can cut the cost of corporate facilities. They’re discovering that employees are fresher, happier, and more productive when they regain the time they normally lose in traffic. They’re also discovering that embracing home working completely changes one of the most important aspect of running a successful business—who they can hire.

Home Working Opens up a Bigger Talent Pool

Organizations can tap into a much larger pool of talent when they drop the physical boundaries and hire people who live outside of the normal recruiting radius of their corporate offices. It becomes easier to fill roles that may have remained unfilled for months—simply because the right candidate doesn’t live within a commutable radius of one of your offices.

When you think about it, in a post-globalization world, it seems somewhat arbitrary to be limiting your talent pool to a very small geographic corner of the world. When you only recruit locally, you put an artificial limit on the talent pool.

For example, if your organisation operates solely in London, UK, you have a population of 9 million people in which to find employees. Despite being one of the world’s largest cities, London still only holds 1/1000th of the world’s population. This means that if you insist on all employees working in your corporate office, you’re reducing your recruitment pool by 99.9%. If you want to employ the best people, this is unlikely to happen if you are eliminating almost all of them simply because of where they are.

As a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, organizations have been forced to accelerate the digital transformation of the way distributed teams work together. Many staff are using IT Services that have been liberally deployed to only a sub-set of users in the past. New capabilities—like enterprise collaboration platforms—which have been rapidly put into place to support the existing workforce are a critical enabler for extending recruitment across the whole of the planet.

With such a large pool of talent now within practical reach, an acceleration in the globalization of work—where work becomes almost completely disconnected from location—is inevitable. As a result, the balance between office workers and home workers will shift…with a profound and lasting impact on the service desk. The supply-chain of supporting technology, networks, devices in conjunction with the exponential increase in the amount of BYOD users and home locations brings additional complexity and demands on IT as well.

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The Need to Support Home Working at Scale Isn’t Going Away

With more current employees working from home, and more new positions being filled by home workers, things are not going to go back to the way they were for the service desk. The service desk must prepare for a new normal.

It must continue to provide home worker support to a large number of people. Perhaps not as many as they are supporting right now (many employees are enthusiastic about returning to the office environment as soon as they can) but still a significant number will now expect an element of home working in the new normal.

This is a good thing—in terms of mitigating the risk of future pandemics.


Maintaining home worker support capabilities means you are prepared for challenging situations which prevent your employees from getting to the office—whether it is a global pandemic, a natural disaster, or transport disrupted by winter snow.

If your service desk must continue to support home workers (rather than returning to a 100% on-site working model), it must not only retain the home worker support capabilities that have been put in place during this crisis. The remote IT services and support that was deployed hastily will now need improved with a more structured and proven tech stack. Improvements in the ways users are supported, so home worker support capabilities should mature over time—in terms of speed, efficiency, and quality-of-service will need new investments in tools, processes and federated knowledge bases .

Should another Pandemic happen, or a second wave : the service desk will have mature home worker support capabilities already in place. Handling a future crisis will involve leveling up this capability—instead of winding it down and then starting from scratch.

There's More to Learn From Covid-19

There is still more to learn from this situation. It’s not over. Service desks have been discovering new challenges on a daily basis—and will continue to do so for some time.

IT Service Delivery leaders need to take a step-back to evaluate what happened; to ask honest, challenging questions. They will need to seek out the truth—without coverups and finger-pointing—to ensure genuine lessons are learned: lessons which will bring benefits if/when another global epidemic arises.

Organizations which try to “sugar-coat” the evaluation of their readiness will learn little, change little, and suffer more next time round—versus their competitors which will benefit more from accurate hindsight.

Like everything else in life, when you look at the Covid-19 with a growth mindset, it’s a learning experience. Often, it is when a crisis stress-tests your IT operations that you learn the most about where your bottlenecks and weaknesses are—and how you might go about solving these.

You probably know what they are already. So is there any better time than now to start developing new capabilities and working on improvements—when the pain is still being felt?

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Topics:Digital WorkplaceOrganizations and peopleCovid-19home worker support


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