With diminishing budgets and headcount cuts increasingly common across organisations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, retaining a full-time, in-house IT support team is no longer viable for many small and mid-size companies. In response to that changing IT landscape, Totality Services, a 12-year-old provider of IT services for enterprise organisations, last week launched WFH IT Support.
It’s designed to service the millions of workers displaced by the UK’s latest round of lock-down regulations, affording teams of all sizes a level of IT security and support previously reserved for large office-based operations.
“Companies are often too small to have any IT presence or an IT engineer that they can employee as a full-time member of staff with a salary,” said Pedro Martins, co-founder of Totality Services and WFH IT Support. By offering the equivalent of a full-time, dedicated team, WFH IT Support can help eliminate IT gaps by providing coverage at all necessary levels of experience and removing any issues around sick-leave or holiday allowances.
Supporting remote workers
WFH IT Support offers three different packages starting at £14.99 per device per month; that rises to £24.99 per device per month for the professional package and £39.99 per device per month for WFH IT Support’s premium offering (the cheapest offering comes with a 10-device minimum).
The onboarding process is designed to be as simple as possible. Once customers sign up, they can onboard all their devices at once, or choose to onboard a few in week one and the rest at a later date. That flexibility means that if someone is away or can’t be onboarded at the same time as colleagues, customers can move things along at a pace is convenient for them.
Luis Navarro, Totality Services’ other co-founder, explained that limiting some of what WFH IT Support offers allows it to simplify the process for customers.
“We don’t support office networks, or servers or NAS (network attached storage) devices, only MacBooks, Macs, PCs, laptops, Microsoft 365 or Google Workplace. By limiting what we support, it makes the signup process so much easier and hassle free for the clients,” he said.
Despite those limitations, the company offers a relatively comprehensive list of services, including free-of-charge onboarding; unlimited remote IT support; Microsoft 365 and G Suite support; staff on-boarding and off-boarding; PC, laptop or Mac purchase services; anti-virus and hard disk encryption management; and email filtering.
According to Chris Matchett, senior director, analyst for IT Operations Management at Gartner, employees who were forced to work from home this year started wound up using their own computing equipment or a work laptop or desktop — but with no easy access to support for their hardware.
“IT service desk staff also had to stay away from the office,” Matchett said, “leaving the traditional phone-based support channels unmanned in some cases.”
Gartner has seen many clients experience shifting demands this year, the most common being newly distanced workers requesting support to remotely connect to their working environment, he said.
With traditional IT service desks and ITSM tools no longer providing adequate support to today’s workers, Matchett expects the reliance on alternative support channels to become common even after workers return to the office. “By 2023, crowdsourcing, work at home, telecommuting and the gig economy will account for 35% of the customer service workforce, up from 5% in 2017,” he said. “[This will be] driven by changing labour practices and business continuity planning.”
The Totality Services team is made up of 26 technical staffers, and three non-technical employees, including Navarro. That gives customers who sign up direct access to IT directors, managers and a whole raft of engineers as well.
“They get that entire IT team set up for a fraction of the cost to hire their own IT manager and a couple of engineers,” Navarro said. “From a service point of view, it’s completely viable because there’s no single points of failure. There’s also no need to train the staff as we handle all that stuff.”
Addressing security risks
Whilst it offers support in a variety of areas, the company’s security service is most often in demand, Martins said. The new offering, just like Totality Services’ established product for offices, partners with cybersecurity firm Mimecast.
Because many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can’t afford a full-time CISO, basic security vulnerabilities can often be overlooked. But those same SMBs now regularly finding themselves targeted by cybercriminals who know they are more likely to have a gap in security.
In recognition of this, Totality Services offers customers annual IT security reviews, making a point of sitting down with clients, looking at their systems and letting them know where there are gaps in security.
Though the environment from which people are working has changed, the security features organisations are looking to put into place remain fairly typical, Martins said — ranging from disk encryption to providing layered email security such as anti-phishing and anti-impersonation software.
There are also a number of simple, but important, security policies being flagging as a result of mass work-from-home policies, such as putting a timed screen lock on devices, for example. (Totality Services encourages organisations to deploy these policies centrally to make sure no employee ends up as a weak link, Martins said.)
Although the company has been a London-centric organisation, working with large enterprises that have set up home in the capital, the remote nature of WFH IT Support allows it to diversify its customer base and work with organisations of all sizes the length and breadth of the UK.
“I think it’s going to be an exciting time and the fact everyone’s adapting to this new work model is going to open up some advantages, but also challenges, in the future,” Martins said. “It’s exciting to be part of that, to see how it develops, and how it potentially defines a completely new era and a new way of working.”
Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.