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How Managed Service Providers Meet Social Distancing Guidelines

By: Blair Felter on May 26, 2020

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic caught much of the world by surprise and forced companies to rethink the way they organized their workplace and serviced customers. For managed service providers (MSPs), the implementation of social distancing guidelines has presented both challenges and opportunities. With the right strategies in place, however, MSPs can continue to thrive even in the midst of the pandemic.

Understanding the Current Social Distancing Guidelines

Even as many states begin to relax their precautionary measures, the threat of COVID-19 remains very real and will continue to impact businesses until a vaccine or an effective treatment is widely available. That means that most organizations will continue to enforce the preventative measures recommended by the CDC, which include:

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other people whenever possible.
  • Covering your coughs or sneezes (preferably with a tissue that is immediately discarded, but otherwise using your elbow rather than your hands).
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

For employers, social distancing guidelines have placed a renewed emphasis on employee health. Any person who develops symptoms associated with COVID-19 should remain at home and not return to work until they’re cleared by a medical professional. Equipment and high-contact areas also need to be wiped down regularly with disinfectant. Employee education is critical for implementing and enforcing these guidelines.

How do Social Distancing Guidelines Affect Managed Service Providers?

Social distancing requirements have had a major impact on managed service providers, but not every MSP has been affected in quite the same way. For MSPs that provide in-person services, such as remote hands personnel, employees have had to take extra precautions to ensure that they’re protecting themselves and their customers from potential exposure.

Many MSPs, however, already delivered services without ever coming into direct physical contact with their clients. As organizations have shifted to remote working arrangements, they’ve also turned to MSP partners to help implement technology solutions. That increased demand has pushed many MSPs to their capacity limits, flooding them with support inquiries and increasing the strain upon their network systems.

How Managed Service Providers Can Still Provide Service While Meeting Social Distancing Guidelines

In an effort to continue providing services without endangering their employees and customers, some MSPs have adopted innovative solutions like Verizon’s “Fios in a box” service. Implemented to reduce contact between customers and field technicians, the “Fios in a box” service allows the technician to address connectivity issues outside the home before handing a literal box over to the customer (or, rather, to comply with social distancing guidelines, leaving it on their doorstep). The box contains everything needed for a cable installation, which the customer then performs themselves with live-video assistance from the technician. Thanks to this novel solution, Verizon has actually been able to increase their number of installations compared to last year despite the restrictions of social distancing guidelines.

For MSPs that offer outsourced services, however, meeting the challenges of increased demand requires a different set of solutions. There are a few things they can do to ramp up their capacity to handle those needs.

Stagger Staffing

With more people working remotely, MSPs are receiving more requests to troubleshoot technical and security issues, often at unusual hours. Previously low-demand hours may suddenly require more staffing attention as remote employees spend more time working in the evenings and on weekends (especially if they have children). Staggering personnel can help ensure that customers are able to get help whenever they need it.

Automate Routine Tasks

Social distancing guidelines have made simply hiring and onboarding new employees difficult unless the company already has experience with handling those tasks remotely. Because of that, MSPs need to make sure their existing workforce can handle as many high-priority tasks as possible rather than spending their time on simpler requests. Any routine tasks should be automated to maximize efficiency and productivity.

Increase IT Capacity

Downtime is the last thing an MSP needs to deal with under the current circumstances. However, as more customer requests come flooding in, the odds are good that their existing IT systems are not prepared to handle the increased traffic. Upgrading capacity with a data center partner or cloud computing service can help them prevent outages and deliver reliable, high-quality services. Visibility is key here. Intelligent monitoring software like vXchnge’s award-winning in\site platform can provide an accurate picture of IT capacity and performance, allowing MSPs to make better decisions regarding their infrastructure.

Rethink Security

Working remotely introduces a wide range of security risks that many organizations are not prepared to deal with. Even if an MSP doesn’t provide cybersecurity services, they should be thinking about how to protect their clients (and themselves) from the many cyber scams that have emerged throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Educate Clients

The transition to remote work has come as a shock for many companies. Whether an MSP focuses on cybersecurity, cloud computing, or networking solutions, there are many opportunities for educating existing customers about the best ways to implement and manage a remote workforce and the network that supports it. This could involve rolling out entirely new services or simply a repackaging of existing consulting services, but MSPs should think about how they can expand into an educational role.

vXchnge is Here for Our MSP Partners

At vXchnge, we value the role of MSPs both as customers and partners who can help us deliver quality colocation services to our clients. While we have implemented our own social distancing guidelines to address the threat of COVID-19, we’re also doing everything we can to help our customers and channel partners adapt their business practices to the ongoing situation. For organizations shifting to remote-based work, our robust data center environment delivers the reliability and flexibility they need to protect their lifeline services without compromising growth. To learn more about how vXchnge colocation services can help your MSP continue serving its customers amidst the COVID-19 crisis, contact our team today.

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