It’s been a challenging time for IT solution providers and Managed Service Providers (MSPs). The COVID-19 pandemic saw an unprecedented upswing in support requests to MSP Helpdesks, as the world suddenly moved to a Work from Home (WFH) set up.

I’ll give all credit to the MSP community. You have worked diligently and admirably to meet this surge in demand. Your support has enabled clients to keep their businesses running, and their employees to work from home.

Now, we’ve reached a period of relative calm, in business terms, as people are working from home and adjusting to the new normal. But what’s next for your MSP?

Good enough was good enough

The initial challenge to enable clients to work from home meant, saw MSPs scrambling to meet any number of demands.

    • Technologies such as Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) were quickly enabled so that that staff could access resources remotely.
    • Hurried migrations to cloud-based services such as Microsoft 365 and Google Apps happened with only the bare minimum of planning.
    • MSPs lowered Security standards to enable staff to work from home.

Clients generally understood that given the time constraints, MSPs had to put together “good enough” solutions for them, even if it wasn’t perfect (or very secure). And it worked. People are working from home. A few weeks into this, however, and what was “good enough” during the initial crisis will not be considered “good enough” as a permanent solution.

As MSPs, we feel uncomfortable about the security risks we’ve exposed our clients to as they work from home. As clients, many WFH employees are now becoming frustrated with the shortcomings of their “good enough” solutions.

Working from home as the new normal

At the time of writing, we have no idea what the future of work looks like, post-COVID-19. Regardless of how much longer the pandemic takes to be contained, the world of work will be changed forever.

While remote working is not a good fit for everybody, large numbers of people do prefer it to the daily grind of commuting, and busy offices. Many employers suddenly realise that they don’t need expensive office space when their staff can be just as productive and efficient working from home.

What this change in outlook will mean is that remote work is no longer an exception. It’s an excepted normal. Perhaps even the new normal. And MSPs are going to need to adapt to that new normal.

Supporting remote workers

As I mentioned earlier, many businesses were content to put up with “good enough” solutions in their WFH environment when they thought that this was a temporary situation.

But as the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into months, not weeks, and businesses start to consider the change in the world of work, your MSP clients will begin to look to you for more permanent solutions.

It would be best if you found out what is causing frustrations for remote workers, and then proactively looked to resolve this. These frustrations could be to do with equipment, for example.

At the start of COVID-19 (and due to other, unrelated supply problems) there was a shortage of business-grade laptop computers. As a result, remote workers adapted their home PC’s for work. Home computers are typically not well-maintained or secured, and as a result, will be slower and more unreliable than a dedicated business computer.

Likewise, many home workers have become frustrated with their home broadband or Wi-Fi connection, not being reliable or speedy.

    • Could your MSP start offering “Home Worker in a Box” solutions which consist of a business-grade laptop, a business-grade router with business-grade Broadband provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) partner?
    • What can your MSP do to increase the standards of security protection that remote workers have? Could you start offering Virtual Private Network (VPN) solutions?
    • Could you offer more flexible homeworker support packages that include monitoring and maintenance?

All of these solutions can increase your client’s productivity, and create new revenue streams for you.

Give them the option to work with “good enough” or to upgrade to better, faster and safer. Some clients will believe that this is a temporary situation and persevere with “good enough” solutions. But many clients will realise that this is the new normal and want options for enabling their WFH employees to work more productively.

Your MSP that needs to be offering solutions

If you don’t offer these solutions, then don’t be surprised if your clients do one of two things.

    1. They start to cobble together their own “better” solutions, leaving you with the headache of supporting these home-brewed concoctions.
    2. They begin to seek out better solutions from your competitors.

Tackle the conversation now. Be proactive. Help your clients to help themselves.

Photo: Paolo Omero / Shutterstock

Richard Tubb

Posted by Richard Tubb

Richard Tubb is a blogger, speaker, and author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the Northeast of England. He provides expert advice to help MSPs grow their IT business, and he has helped the owners of hundreds of MSPs to free up their time, concentrate on doing what is important, and make more money.

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