As an independent consultant working remotely, you already know the important role technology plays within the day-to-day operations of your business. From helping you manage client communications and streamline repetitive tasks, to supporting your deliverable development across multiple projects, having the right tools and software technology can make all the difference by improving your productivity and enabling you to work more efficiently.
However, just as a traditional full-time employee can run into tech problems in the workplace, you can and should expect to encounter common technical issues that may hamper your workflow. The question is, how do you overcome these challenges and get the support you need when there’s no IT department to call?
In this blog post, we’ll explore how independent consultants can overcome tech challenges. We’ll also identify how to get home technical support when you’re working as an independent consultant and where to find reliable answers to your tech-related inquiries.
Identifying common technical challenges
As an independent consultant, there are several common tech challenges that you may face while working at home and some practical strategies to help overcome them:
The problem: Hardware issues
Computers crash, printers fail, and when they do, it can create unexpected downtime, taking a significant toll on your productivity.
The solution: Equip yourself with reliable hardware
Having the right gear can make or break your in-home business set-up by reducing the likelihood that you’ll run into common hardware-related issues and providing a faster, smoother work experience. If your budget permits it, consider making an upfront investment to source the best reliable, high-quality tech hardware you can afford for your business needs. Key investments might include:
- A powerful computer with a large display monitor.
- Fast and stable internet connection. You may also consider securing a Wi-Fi hotspot for travel or Wi-Fi extenders throughout your home to strengthen connection points across your home depending on where and how you work.
- A printer and/or scanners.
The problem: Software glitches
While software plays a critical role in the operations of your business, occasional glitches and bugs can cause applications to freeze, software compatibility issues to arise, or updates to install.
The solution: Keep your software up-to-date
It might feel easier at the moment to continue ignoring the software update pop-up notifications on your computer or phone and avoid having to learn any new features, but staying on top of updating your software and operating system can play a critical role in helping you proactively avoid bigger tech challenges. Hackers are always looking for vulnerabilities to exploit, and staying on top of updates can help improve the security of your system. If you’ve been regularly ignoring these updates for a while, here are some immediate next steps you can start with:
- If a trusted software program shares a prompt to opt-in for automatic updates, approve it to help make your future software updates easier.
- Back up your data with a cloud-based service like Google or iCloud or via an external hard drive.
- Run a manual check for any missed updates on your phone or computer by checking for software updates. Turn on automated options as you go.
- If your software bugs out, opt to send crash reports to the software companies to help them find bugs in their system and help keep your applications less vulnerable to hackers.
The problem: Permissions and access
As a remote worker, you might encounter difficulties when accessing certain files, databases, or systems due to permission constraints. Managing and resolving access-related challenges is crucial for fostering efficient collaboration and project execution.
The solution: Utilize cloud-based tools and services and secure remote access.
Cloud-based tools and solutions for file storage, project management, and collaboration offer a great way to seamlessly facilitate collaboration with clients and team members while working remotely and circumvent permission issues. These types of service providers also generally provide users with the most up-to-date technology via automated updates, making it easy to stay on top of updates. Consider using these tools to avoid permission and accessibility issues.
In the event that you need to access client systems or databases remotely with an added layer of security, you may want to opt into utilizing virtual private networks (VPNs) or remote desktop software to establish secure connections and maintain data privacy. Here are some suggestions on where to start.
Setting yourself up with these solutions is a great way to get ahead of some of the more common tech problems you’re likely to face as an independent consultant, but what about those times when the issue is beyond your skillset to solve? As an independent consultant, it’s crucial to know where to find help when facing technical challenges. Here’s where to start when looking for remote tech support for freelancers:
1. Contact your client’s IT team
As a consultant or freelance employee, your first stop for tech support regarding a client system or equipment should always be the client’s IT team or helpdesk for assistance. Businesses take great care to set up their systems against a variety of vulnerabilities to maintain security across all company-owned devices, so before seeking a solution independently, be sure to start here.
2. Tap company support centers for help with paid products or services.
A great place to find help is by reaching out to the official support channels of the hardware or software vendors you use. For example, if you’re faced with an issue with a paid service, such as poor or frequently interrupted internet connectivity, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is obligated to help you. If the issue is with a product and you’ve registered your equipment with the company you bought it from, check to see if there is a warranty, or visit the company website for a text-based chat window or call option to get the help you need. Many companies provide comprehensive online knowledge bases, tutorials, and user forums where you can find answers to your queries as well as technical support for more specific issues.
3. Connect with an online community or forum
Connect with an online community or forum: Online internet forums and communities dedicated to technology-related discussions can be a great do-it-yourself resource when it comes to finding solutions for common technical issues. Platforms like Reddit, Quora, or Stack Exchange have technologically savvy communities where professionals often share their personal experiences and trade solutions, and they can be a great place to find the answer to your specific challenge. YouTube is another resource to mine for step-by-step tutorials from technical experts. For the best results, be as specific as you can when typing out your query, using keywords to help guide better results within the search engine or forum.
4. Call a friend
If all online resources have failed you and you’re lucky enough to know someone within your inner friends or family circle who is tech savvy, consider reaching out to them for assistance. To make it easier for them to help, be sure to set aside enough time to try to troubleshoot the problem with their support, write down any instructions, and let them know what steps you’ve taken and any error responses you’ve received.
5. Seek professional tech support
When you’re self-employed and working without an IT department to rely on, it’s essential to secure access to reliable tech support you can trust. Consider subscribing to a reputable tech support service provider specializing in remote assistance for independent professionals. These services provide reliable, on-demand assistance for various tech-related issues, ranging from software troubleshooting to network setup. With your permission, they can remotely access the computer in front of you using their preferred remote software.
6. Send out your equipment for servicing
If you have time to go without your equipment or don’t have the patience for remote assistance online or by phone, you may consider dropping off your equipment at an electronics store or service center for expert repair. Be sure to get a quote on the estimated time and costs before committing to the service to know what to expect.
7. Consider in-person support
Whether you’re phoning a friend, visiting a big box store, or working with a technical support team service, opting for in-person, on-site support is likely to create the least amount of friction and provide an opportunity for you to learn how to troubleshoot the problem in the future.
The Bottom Line:
As an independent consultant, subject matter expert, or executive working remotely, technology plays a vital role in your professional success. By taking the steps to identify and plan for common technical issues you can make sure you’re well equipped to handle any tech-related issue that comes your way so you can focus your time on what you do best.
Business Talent Group offers a wide array of resources for independent contractors, including tips on how to find remote project collaboration tools, how to improve your remote work habits, how to avoid digital overload, and more. Learn more about the BTG talent network and join here.
About the AuthorMore Content by Candace Corner