Remote working is hardly a new concept. Technology companies had made it fashionable quite a while back.
It’s an exciting theme indeed. Citing a study, the World Economic Forum highlights that a whopping 98 percent of the workforce would like to have the option of working remotely.
Allianz too had identified the opportunity as early as 2011. The company launched its strategy to virtualize workplaces with the Allianz Virtual Client (AVC). Today, this core platform alone has more than 110,000 users globally, with more being added daily. Employees use company-provided equipment or even their private laptops to access the AVC via secure two-factor authentication.
“At the peak of the crisis, as many as 90 percent of our employees were seamlessly adopting remote working because we had already been setting up the infrastructure for a while,” says Olav Spiegel, in charge of Global Workplace Strategy and member of the New Work Model taskforce, responsible for technology.
Talking about being ahead of the curve, a notable mention is Allianz Deutschland, the group’s German entity. “They started a project last year to set up home offices. When the coronavirus crisis hit, Allianz Deutschland already had some 8,000 people working from home with full equipment including screen, thin client, keyboard and mouse,” Olav elaborates.
Having its own infrastructure enabled the Allianz group to add capacity quickly as needed. “We did not have to rely on third-party vendors too much. For example, when our remote access capacity was reaching the maximum limit, we deployed our testing capacity,” he adds.
In contrast, the sudden surge in the usage of online collaboration tools such as video conferencing caught providers of these applications by surprise. Even with buffer capacity in place, managing such a huge jump in demand couldn’t have been without hiccups, even for cloud providers. During the crisis, Allianz worked with its partners and vendors to stabilize the applications used by the company. Today, Allianz runs more than 100,000 virtual meetings per week on its platforms, allowing business to continue as usual.
“Our early start prepared us well for such situations. Many less-prepared companies struggled to get their employees online to work remotely,” Olav says.