The data behind HR and IT requests during COVID-19

At atSpoke, our mission is to help everyone work smart and fast with modern internal ticketing. We elevate internal help desks in companies with chat, machine learning, and integrations. 

As we collectively navigate these uncertain times, the atSpoke team wants to be as helpful as possible to our customers, and the broader IT, HR and internal support communities. One perspective we’re uniquely able to offer is the trends behind what employees in companies are asking for, and how that’s changed in recent weeks. After aggregating and anonymizing hundreds of thousands of tickets from the last few months, we’ve been able to extract some actionable insights that can help you support your colleagues more effectively.

Using our NLP and machine learning tools, we were able to identify the most common types of COVID-19 requests that HR and IT teams are receiving. Our goal is to be able to provide you with some tips on what to expect so you can prepare (and for our customers, you can train atSpoke for these as well!).

First a little bit about our methodology

We looked at several hundred thousand tickets going through atSpoke from Wednesday, Jan 1st, 2020 to Friday, March 27th, 2020. The ticket data was aggregated and anonymized, so we don’t draw any insights from specific companies and maintain privacy. Using our state-of-the-art natural language processing (NLP), we parsed these tickets for terms related to COVID-19. We then ran the identified, anonymized, tickets through our machine learning aggregation tools to group requests by question category, as well as to group requests by company function (primarily focusing on HR and IT).

When COVID-19 started trending

Percentage of daily tickets relating to COVID-19 for HR and IT

COVID-19 daily tickets

In times of uncertainty, employees turn to their HR colleagues first. HR teams across our customer base started seeing COVID-19 related tickets on February 28th. A steep rise in tickets started on March 13th, and March ended with nearly 4% of all HR questions relating to the virus. 

IT tickets about the virus began around March 9th. COVID-19 related tickets steadily increased to around 1.5% of all IT ticket volume by the end of March in response to (mandatory) work from home policies.

Ticket categories and trends by week in March

Tickets submitted to HR and IT teams fell into 5 broad categories:

Share by tickets by category

The volume of tickets in each of these categories changed rapidly each week of March, as companies scrambled to adapt to changing conditions. Specific trends that we saw:

Specific questions to prepare for

To better prepare support teams to address employee questions, we parsed out 43 specific ticket topics sent to IT and HR. If you don’t already have a policy or response for these questions, now might be a good time to get ahead of it. 

For atSpoke customers, knowledge base entries around these topics will go a long way to supporting your colleagues. When you get the first of these tickets, you can click on the “+” button in the request panel in atSpoke to train it to handle it for you automatically going forward. Another way is to go to your Knowledge Base and add these answers there directly. Please refer to this Help Center article or let the atSpoke Customer Success team know if you need any assistance.

HR Policy Guidance

PTO adjustments

1. Adjusting PTO because travel plans changed

2. What to do with PTO that’s expiring during COVID-19 lock-downs

Changes to recruiting, onboarding and offboarding

3. How to onboard employees during WFH

4. How to offboard employees during WFH

5. Changes to recruiting processes and goals

6. How to verify I-9 paperwork for new hires during WFH

7. Questions about privacy requirements when collecting documents over email/phone

Payroll and benefits

8. Support for children’s schools being closed

9. Company, state and federal unemployment and benefits questions

10. Timecards and timesheets when WFH

11. Questions about how payroll is changing for fulltime and part-time employees

12. COVID-19 overtime questions

COVID-19 specific policies

13. Ability to swing by the office to pick-up items during WFH

14. Travel refunds and expensing travel that was canceled

15. Commute benefits questions during WFH

16. Employees stuck in foreign locations and unable to return home

Company connectivity 

17. Guidance on when WFH will end and how employees will be notified

18. Guidance on company meetings during WFH

COVID preparation

HR documentation and information consistency

19. Requests for company “COVID-19 preparation policy”

20. Creating emergency rapid response email addresses and mailing groups for COVID-19 questions

Facilities/Cleaning/Office supplies requests

21. Questions around cleaning of offices, common areas, and conference rooms

22. Requests for office cleaning supplies including hand sanitizer and wipes

23. Deep cleaning processes for facilities that had a confirmed COVID-19 case

COVID exposure

24. General policy around what to do if someone is exposed or suspects exposure to COVID-19

25. Concerns about sick colleagues

26. Specific assistance required if someone is exposed to COVID-19

27. Questions around what to do when a family member is sick from COVID-19

28. Questions around symptoms and differentiation between COVID-19 and the flu and colds

IT for WFH

Hardware requests

29. Laptop, monitor, keyboard and mouse requests for WFH

30. Questions about receiving and returning hardware from IT during WFH

31. Expensing WFH IT hardware

32. Request for home internet support including modems/hotspots

Software requests

33. Slack and Microsoft Teams new account and debugging questions

34. Video conferencing tools and debugging (primarily Zoom)

35. VPN installation/debugging questions

IT information consistency and organization

36. Creating new ticket types for COVID-19 related questions

37. Creating a shared document folder for all COVID-19 documents

38. Creating new mailing lists for COVID-19

Infrastructure and coverage ownership

39. Questions around DevOps and infrastructure support and coverage plans during WFHC

Customer care ❤️

40. Message to send to customers

41. Changes to customer support hours and policies

42. Changes to timing and how customer payments are processed

43. Resources to provide to small business customers who are impacted by COVID-19 changes

The atSpoke team hopes that these questions can help you be a bit more prepared to support your colleagues during these extraordinary times. Across all of our analyses, the professionalism, patience and attitude of “keeping calm and carrying on” of our customers have shone through, and we could not be more proud to be building tools to better support you. We’ll be sharing some additional insights from our data over the next few days to help you think through how IT and HR staffing levels need to change during these times, as well as some insights from which tools are best to help with work from home.

Stay safe and we’ll see you on the other side!

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