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The COVID-19 crisis has forced companies to test their tech capacity. IBL Group is no exception. Over 200 team members had to be connected to ensure business continuity during the lockdown. IBL’s IT Department has made this possible with some anticipation and clever response. Laurent Fayolle, Group Information & Technology Executive at IBL Ltd, tells how he and his team led this new configuration of work in a time of crisis.
1. How did you anticipate the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on IBL before it hit Mauritius?
The IT Department of IBL Group was already observing what was occurring around the world, how countries that were being impacted were addressing business continuity. Since the Corporate Centre already launched a proper work flexibility initiative in late 2019, it was an opportunity for us to further promote Work from Home (WFH) with the proper tools.
2. What were the first challenges identified?
Around a week before the identification of first COVID-19 cases in Mauritius, we saw a considerable increase in users wanting to work from home. The first challenge was providing adequate equipment for everyone to do so. Then we had to decide whether internally hosted systems would be made available outside the perimeter of the Corporate Centre. Finding the most secure way of doing so was also a challenge.
3. How many IT people have been working on the deployment and maintenance of the logistics to enable all IBL team members to work from home?
All the team members of IBL’s IT Department have been heavily involved both directly and indirectly in the deployment and maintenance of these logistics. Services to be maintained include those of the Corporate Centre as well as those provided to the whole group.
4. How did the team members respond to this new configuration of work – was it easy for them to get used to new tools?
All IBL team members responded positively. The ease of adoption of the new tools varied but everyone was collaborative and motivated enough to get the work done. It was a nice team effort.
5.What kind of assistance do you provide to less tech-savvy people?
The IT Department created a “channel” on Microsoft Teams where some basic guides, how-tos, and walkthroughs were shared. Additionally, we’ve fully remained reachable via all the available communication channels. The team had to adapt to different users, their different levels of IT skills, their different hardware but in the end, it all worked out pretty well.
6. Did the IT Department receive unexpected requests, and how did you manage to meet the expectations?
First, we had to meet the needs of the Corporate Centre. In addition to finding hardware to provide for users during the lockdown period, we managed to enable other users to work with their personal hardware in some cases. Also, we made arrangements to make it possible for all the team members of the Corporate Centre (over 200 persons) to attend an online wellness workshop that was organised by our Human Capital Department.
Apart from the Corporate Centre, we had to deal with major connectivity issue at one of IBL subsidiaries.
Finally, we’ve worked on a major project with the creation of a HealthBot for the iblgroup.com website in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All expectations were met in very reasonable timeframes. Our long standing and strong relationship with our suppliers has been an important asset.
7. Once the situation returns to normal, is this crisis going to change the way IBL used to work before?
Definitely… This crisis has forced our work culture to evolve rapidly. We were able to push the adoption of tools like Microsoft Teams in a very unexpected and disruptive manner. While this adoption was one of our pre-COVID-19 challenges, when the pandemic hit our IBL team members were forced to run before they could walk! And now almost all users are using the platform to collaborate.
Time will tell what will be “the new normal”, but we think that being physically present at office will certainly be less and less required…