IT Support Worries: When is a Cough Just a Cough?

IT Support turns to Health Contagion Worries? As February turned to March, the worries we faced piled up on each other like gnats on a boar…

The frightening scenes of people being sealed in their apartments with doors welded shut as Wuhan, China took quarantine to a level unheard of before now… Then they built an entire hospital in under a week (!) to treat those who had fallen ill. Grave concerns as the Coronavirus spread to Italy and rapidly took hold in Lombardy, the ski-resorts and other northern cities. Travel bans exercised then lifted. W.H.O. refusing to declare a pandemic. Yet, the grisly scenes and numbers being reported by John Hopkins worldwide tracker becoming more and more ominous. What did become clear, was with COVID-19 the vulnerable included the elderly and anyone with diabetes, asthma or compromised lung issues…

It was probably a month before the U.S.A. lock-downs began, that we started to shift:

Nate raised the question about onsite visits: We routinely go onsite to most of our clients at least once a month to provide desktop/user support and verify the physical health of their infrastructure. Was it wise for us to take the risk of getting infected? Or, God forbid, infecting someone at our clients’?

Good point!

I, along with each of our Partners, called our Client business contacts to ask if they minded us reallocating the onsite cost/hours to remote while still assuring the same level of service & support?

Thank goodness, our remote control tools make it just as easy to fix problems hands off as it is going directly to the user’s workstation.

Their answer?

A wholehearted “Yes!” (I hadn’t realized how personal it could get… the stories of preexisting conditions, elderly parents at risk, worries about HR liability and workman’s comp, business travel, airports. And we hadn’t even reached the annual pollen allergy season in Atlanta!

We quickly re-prioritized the new user, desktop and server deployments to get the equipment installed while we had all hands available:

  1. I visited and acquired a new client on the 4th of February
  2. We Installed a new server and 2 refurbed desktops on the 5th.
  3. New firewall setup and updates on February 6th
  4. On February 11, Nate did a thorough onsite for our Buckhead client whom we visit at least 2-3 times a month, spending the whole day to make sure everything that required his physical presence was updated to the latest / greatest firmware and that all printers, copiers and other peripherals (including the cursed wireless keyboards and mice) were all in good working condition. The server room was spotless when he pulled out of there ~ 5 pm.
  5. Kevin updated all the laptops and infrastructure at our Manchester U.K. clients the same day.
  6. We deployed the new workstations for new hires at a client on February 13 and I met with the new VP Finance to help with an internal transition of IT management.
  7. The week of February 17th we onboarded one new client for backups, desktop agents, password resets (it was rather a mess with none of the machines joined to the domain and them sitting in two different workgroups). Our new intern got a great baptism in fire on the difference between local, Azure, Microsoft and domain user accounts!
  8. That same week, we also provisioned the Surface tablets for another new client – a start-up – and successfully migrated them from G-Suite to Office 365 (except for a OneDrive bug… ), so we could ship ’em to the end users in Miami and deliver to those in Atlanta.

By the middle of February we were pretty well squared away and had everything set for a remote-only support model. I figured all we’d encounter were the odd equipment deliveries or meetings to review roadmaps or project plans, and I could certainly assume that risk for our Georgia-based clients; Kevin could do the same for our UK-based ones.

Boy, was I wrong!

 Photo by Prateek Katyal from Pexels

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