News Apr 15, 2020

Keeping Us Connected: Proactive IT Services for Remote Working

Our IT team’s forward-thinking response ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic laid groundwork for a successful work-from-home environment.

Digital Globe

You might think that a massive organization would need all kinds of cutting-edge technology to enable its global workforce to stay connected and functioning during a crisis. But at Jacobs, the secret to our ability to keep things running smoothly in unprecedented times is actually not a secret at all: it comes down to human leadership and the ability to put foresight into action.

“Our IT organization is using standard technologies to enable our remote workforce,” says Jeremy Martin, Chief of Staff to Jacobs’ Chief Digital & Information Officer Madhuri Andrews. “The difference is that the team got out ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

As soon as the situation started being discussed globally by government and health organizations, our IT team started looking at our networks and supporting infrastructure and what we needed to do to get all our people working from home in the event it became necessary.

“It’s been my experience in leading teams that your first order of business is to empower your people to consider the bigger picture and to think strategically,” says Madhuri. “For an IT organization, that means going beyond simply focusing on what the technology might be or how it might work, and instead have a business-first mindset – that is, understand the people who are using your solutions and then design accordingly.”

“In this case, the solution wasn’t really technological at all – rather, it was being able to identify and assess the sentiment of a looming challenge, rather than trying to deal with a problem after the fact by deploying technology,” Madhuri adds. “Our team determined at a very early stage that the possibility of having to move the majority of our workforce to remote work was an issue to be taken seriously, and they prepared accordingly for what became an eventuality.”

The team got to work immediately, identifying creative approaches to leverage our global network connectivity to support more VPN connections; integrating Citrix for computer and graphically intensive capabilities to enable remote connectivity from home, even in parts of the world where local infrastructure was being heavily stressed.

While the tools and systems themselves aren’t all that groundbreaking, proactive actions from the IT team and Jacobs senior leadership helped make the transition a success. The team worked around the clock, scaling up these tools and systems in just a few days, Jeremy notes.

Their quick planning and research into licensing and contracts at the early stages of the crisis set up the rapid transition when it became time to shift as much of our workforce to home environments as possible.

And, the transition began even earlier, about six months ago, adds Sean Bos, Vice President, IT Infrastructure Services, when the team started witnessing the Jacobs workforce changing to become more mobile and collaborating on projects across globally dispersed teams.

“At that point we partnered with our vendors to adjust contracts for our remote desktop software and develop a proof-of-concept to allow our teams to work from any location – not tied to an office,” Sean says. This proof-of-concept provided crucial groundwork enabling the team to be ready for the situation we’re now facing.

“We didn’t wait on anything,” Sean concludes. “We were proactive and got out in front of it.”

By leveraging the experience and insights of our IT professionals, Jacobs was able to continue its mission of keeping our global workforce connected and delivering on our commitments to our clients – no matter where we are during our work days.