In July 2019, our Information Systems and Information Technology department identified a growing trend facing our industry, the need for video collaboration tools. Our team needed a way to collaborate with the main office, the field, and to other contractors on our projects.
After looking into several different products, we signed an enterprise agreement with Cisco for its collaboration software, Webex. We provided the Webex chat and conferencing features to each employee, improving communication and collaboration across all 16 offices. Although we made early accommodations for easy communication, there was no way to predict just how critical it would be during the impending COVID-19 Pandemic.
Mid-January, we started to feel the growing effects of the COVID-19 crisis overseas as many of our IT vendors started to experience long delays in providing needed equipment. As the virus worked its way around the world, we began to identify the importance of preparing early, in case the issues overseas made their way to the United States. We kicked-off meetings in early March to discuss how we as a department would respond to the need of supporting all our employees remotely if our offices were to close.
Identifying Remote Solutions
In the case of offices potentially closing, our priority was to make sure that our mechanical service departments were still able to receive calls and dispatch technicians to clients, which is critical to many of the essential industries we support, most specifically to our healthcare clients. To ensure that we didn’t experience any service outages, we purchased a pool of Cisco Meraki routers for our Service dispatchers to take home. This would allow them to take their computers and desk phones home and work as though they were still in the office.
Our second priority was to provide a laptop computer for each user to prepare for work from home orders. As we struggled to acquire new computers from our vendors, it was clear we needed to come up with a solution quickly as the demand for remote working capabilities became widespread. Moreover, if we had to send our IT department home, they wouldn’t have the ability to easily install the needed software for our machines. Luckily, we had many old laptops on-hand and were able to scrape together working parts and get as many of the old laptops into working order as possible. Our team stored the computers at their homes in case of a lockdown, so we could safely access and ship the computers nationwide to ensure our end users could work remotely.
MMC Corp promotes a culture of communication and collaboration and it was imperative that our teams could work together effortlessly while working remotely, just as they would in the office. We work in a fast-paced industry, and it was our goal to make sure no time was wasted once all users were working from home, and we knew that our team would be the go-to resource for any computer-related issues. To make this transition seamless, we launched a communication strategy that included “how-to” messaging, tutorials, and training videos that explained how to access our servers, connect to our VPN remotely, how to utilize Webex chat and meetings, Office 365, and more.
Transitioning to a New Reality
What seemed unlikely at the beginning of March became the reality for us by mid-March as our offices went into lockdown and employees began working from home. Because of the preparations we made, we transitioned our office staff to working remotely. Our Helpdesk team of six worked hard to assist each employee as they set up their new home offices, closing 50% more tickets in the first month of the quarantine than they normally do. We saw huge increases in the utilization of our Webex tools as everyone worked from home. Before the quarantine, our employees held around 700 Webex meetings a month, and in April, we held 2,697 that were joined by over 15,000 participants. We tripled the number of users taking advantage of Webex chat to collaborate, sending over 4,000 messages daily.
Fortunately, the investment we made in tools, infrastructure, and training positioned our company well to transition our office employees to a remote work environment. With the help of the IT department, our users didn’t miss a beat, and despite all that has transpired with the quarantine, our company is well-positioned to have another extremely successful year.