Onsite vs. Remote IT Support: Which is the Best for You?

October 17, 2023

When a company’s employees experience tech issues, even minor ones, ripples of disruption travel through the organization, causing delays and reducing productivity. Minimizing the impact of these issues requires high-quality IT support services, but many businesses find selecting the best support options both a confusing and time consuming process. Often, the results are less than optimal.

The core decision that an organization has to make is whether to implement remote or onsite support, or a combination of the two. Before looking at these options in more detail, let’s clarify the terms.

Onsite vs. Remote IT Support

1. What are onsite and remote IT services?

Onsite support means having an engineer providing technical assistance at an organization’s premises. Big enterprises with many users in a single location often have inhouse engineers to provide support. These are either directly employed by the company or supplied by a third party.

For companies with branches offices spread across a wide area or smaller businesses with fewer users, it is difficult to justify the expense of having full time onsite engineers. They typically use a service provider that dispatches engineers as and when they are needed. This type of onsite support will be focused on in this article.

Remote support, on the other hand, refers to assistance provided over the phone or a telecommunications platform, via email or a text-based chat app. Users contact the support desk with problems and the remote engineers walk them through how to resolve the issue.

2. The Benefits of Onsite IT Support vs. Remote Support

The Benefits of Onsite IT Support vs. Remote Support

The Pros of Onsite IT Support

One of the key benefits of onsite IT support is that it offers relational services. Remote support is usually faceless and anonymous. The users never get to know the people that are supporting them and vice versa. In contrast, having onsite engineers enables users and engineers to meet in person, get to know each other and establish a relationship of trust. It also means that engineers gain a better understanding of the processes and situation in the client company. Because of this, they are positioned to make pre-emptive recommendations to head off trouble, give advice on how to improve processes, and help to improve productivity.

Another benefit of onsite support is the level of the issues that can be handled. There are limits to what users can do under remote instruction. For example, they cannot be expected to handle complex hardware issues that require de-assembly, direct sight and hands on contact with the malfunctioning devices.

3. The Benefits of Remote IT Support vs. Onsite Support

The Benefits of Remote IT Support vs. Onsite Support

The Pros of Remote IT Support

In comparison to onsite support, remote services are relatively inexpensive. They are ideal for tackling software and OS problems where issue diagnosis is comparatively simple, and users can be guided through the steps to fix the problem themselves.

Lower costs can come from a number of factors. Firstly, because support is provided using telecommunication services, users can get assistance immediately, 24/7, anywhere in the world. This minimizes the disruption caused by an issue, as well as eliminating transportation costs, call-out fees and other expenses. Additionally, because the problems that remote services tackle are simpler, they can be handled by engineers with lower-level skills and experience. Higher skills mean higher costs.

4. Which choice is best for your business?

By understanding the differences between them and the options available, you can choose the best method for your business.

Remote Support

Onsite Support

Combined Support


Operating expenses

Operating expenses + travel expenses

Operating expenses + travel expenses

Speed Resolution




Service Interactions

Remote – Call or Text



Here are three case studies showing examples of our solutions:

Case Study 1 – Onsite IT Support

In 2020, our client, a large German automobile company with outlets across Japan, was experiencing nationwide network issues. Due to the logistics of the problem, it was not feasible for their inhouse IT support staff to provide onsite support at all of their branches. They needed engineers who could be their hands and eyes and solve problems in locations from Hokkaido in the north of Japan to Okinawa in the south.

With offices across Japan, ISF NET was able to supply engineers who could access the customers’ sites and solve their network problems. Our engineers worked both independently and in conjunction with the client’s team, relaying observations for accurate issue diagnosis and acting on instructions for quick issue resolution.

Following the completion of these services, the client entrusted us with onsite work in other areas, and we have been providing ongoing services to them for over 3 years.

Case Study 2 – Remote IT Support

In early 2023, ISF NET was approached by a large Japanese telecommunications company. Some of their overseas branches provide Linux-based cloud services to international customers and they needed engineers with project management skills and experience who could provide both English and Japanese language support to their users.

After failing to recruit suitable staff in Singapore where the support team for their services is based, they began looking at alternative options. Since ISF NET Japan has bilingual engineers with knowledge and experience they required, we proposed remote services from Japan using bilingual Japanese-English engineers with advanced IT knowledge, extensive experience, and strong management skills from our Tokyo office. Because this approach was new to the client, the services were initially provided on a month-to-month basis. However, over three years later, we have now expanded those services and have been additionally asked to provide technical sales support to new and existing users of the client’s cloud services.

Case Study 3 – Combined Onsite & Remote IT Support

While some clients choose to provide remote support via their own help desk and ask a service provider to give onsite assistance as in Case Study 1 above, many choose an outside service provider for both remote and onsite support. Taking this approach can maximize business outcomes by leveraging the advantages of both onsite and remote IT support, as well as allowing in-house IT departments to focus on business growth and innovation.

The client in this case study is a components manufacturer with facilities both in Japan and overseas. Due to the geographical dispersion of the facilities and offices, the company faced a diverse range of IT support needs including how to provide onsite support for hardware failures and network issues, how to provide timely remote support across multiple time zones, and how to minimize IT support costs in order to increase the budgets of business development projects.

ISF NET worked with the client to plan and implement integrated onsite IT support and remote IT support services. These were managed centrally by ISF NET. Remote support came from our 24/7 global helpdesk and ISF NET engineers were either placed at the client’s facilities or stationed at anISF NET office nearby. By doing this, we offered the client greater service flexibility and minimized the steps needed to resolve issues, increasing overall efficiency. Onsite IT support is used when a swift response to physical issues and urgent situations is required. Remote IT support is used for software-related problems and simple issues that can be resolved by users under remote instruction.

By combining these approaches with services from a single provider, the client was able to implement an effective support system that has brought significant benefits to their business.