Rooting Out Better Solutions: Why Hybrid Workforces Complicate Root Cause Analysis
Dispersed workforces, heavily used devices, and third-party infrastructure make root cause analysis more essential than ever
This is the first in a two-part series exploring the unique challenges IT faces with hybrid workplaces and the solutions that can be found using comprehensive root cause analysis. Read the second part here.
Quick troubleshooting and proactive IT incident management are more crucial than ever. With the increase of hybrid workplaces, employees rely heavily on their devices to work from anywhere. Internet connectivity issues, for example, might lead to missed meetings or deadlines.
Dispersed workplaces put extra pressure on IT teams to solve issues as quickly as possible so that employees can go back to work. That explains the increased focus on root cause analysis (RCA) to ensure employees have a superior digital experience in flexible work environments. For 69% of IT staff surveyed in Lakeside Software’s study about the future of the digital workplace, RCA tools bring the most value for digital experience monitoring.
What Is Root Cause Analysis
In the IT world, root cause analysis is a method to resolve technology-related issues by investigating their underlying causes, rather than simply treating their symptoms.
By going to the source of issues, RCA empowers IT teams to become:
- More proactive by discovering related issues and preventing repeat incidents.
- More efficient by reducing mean time to resolution (MTTR).
Root cause investigation is the hardest when organizations have a dispersed workforce, as these environments pose unique challenges for both IT staff and remote workers themselves.
Q&A Featuring Forrester Analyst Andrew Hewitt
Making the Business Case for Root Cause Analysis
Unique Challenges of Dispersed Digital Workplaces
Dispersed workplaces lead to complex IT environments because the IT team has to deal with:
- A great volume of different locations and IT scenarios
- Increased reliance on devices
- Third-party-owned infrastructure
- The proliferation of shadow IT
Geographically dispersed workspaces add complexity to the IT environment
With employees moving locations and connecting to different Wi-Fi networks, potential issues escalate. For organizations, that also means an increased number of service desk scenarios to manage, as the IT team has to provide support to employees with different work styles across geographically dispersed workspaces.
One of the main issues with remote and hybrid work is that at-home internet connectivity might not be as robust as at the office. In fact, about one in every three employees surveyed by Lakeside cited poor internet connection quality as a remote work challenge.
Reliance on technology increases with remote work
With employees working from home, basic activities rely on digital tools. For example, if the employee doesn’t have a stable internet connection, the person might not be able to communicate with team members and join video meetings. In traditional office settings, collaboration could still happen regardless of internet access.
Workplace technology becomes pivotal for engagement because, without connectivity, an employee could be left out of critical team conversations. In fact, less engagement and a sense of belonging are among the top remote work challenges, according to Lakeside Software’s The Future of Digital Workplaces report.
BYOD and shadow IT hinder comprehensive asset visibility
Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trends also add complexity to IT environments, regardless of where the employee is working. RCA is harder when employees are using their own devices and software because IT might lack visibility into those assets.
Lakeside’s study also reveals that, for 21% of IT staff, managing an increasing number of devices is one of the top challenges when providing a superior digital experience. And 31% of the respondents also cited the proliferation of shadow IT — referring to the use of devices, software and services that are not owned and controlled by the IT department.
Third-party infrastructure adds another layer of complexity
Traditionally, IT used to have more control over company-owned technology, such as PCs, sanctioned apps, servers, and network connectivity. With trends of digital transformation in the workplace, especially the move to the cloud, not only are employees using their own devices for work but also companies themselves are outsourcing their IT infrastructure. Examples include the focus on virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) migration to improve cost savings, scalability, and remote access.
As cloud providers own or operate much of the IT infrastructure employees use, IT teams need to have visibility into those cloud environments, too. For example, is an issue on an endpoint related to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) outage or a faulty hard drive? To answer this type of question, support desk teams need complete and contextual visibility into the IT environment.
Root Cause Investigation Can Help Minimize Remote Work Challenges
It’s critical for IT leaders to understand that remote work won’t go away in the post-pandemic world, so they can better prepare for the realities of dispersed workforces.
According to a 2022 survey by Pew Research, 61% of the respondents are saying to choose to work from home rather than doing it by necessity (for example, the workplace is closed or unavailable). The research also notes that interest in working remotely — despite having a workplace outside of employees’ homes — has shifted, as there’s now a greater preference for remote forms of work. Earlier in the Covid-19 pandemic, only 36% said they were working from home due to their choice rather than necessity.
A proactive approach to IT issues can help minimize downtime and lost productivity, alleviating many of the pain points of working remotely. In other words, getting to RCA faster becomes crucial to enabling effective support desk operations. At the same, effective RCA requires full and contextual visibility into the IT estate, which is more challenging with dispersed workforces.
Prepare for the Future of Remote Work
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