Modernizing IT infrastructure
Lockdown requirements have meant an unprecedented increase in the number of employees working from home. We quickly rolled out the necessary measures to ensure efficient, secure operations across the organization. We also made all the necessary adjustments to our infrastructure, systems, employee services and cybersecurity practices. And we are closely monitoring the situation to maintain an optimal level of service and to address needs as they arise. And we are also working hard to prepare for a return to the workplace so that we are ready to go once telework is no longer mandatory.
Infrastructure and systems
Before the lockdown, we analyzed the capacity of our various technology systems. To meet the considerably higher demands on our data centres in Montreal and Toronto as a result of remote work requirements, we made a number of major adjustments designed to:
- Increase the capacity of Internet connections: We significantly increased the bandwidth of our systems at the start of the lockdown, partially to accommodate more VPN users.
- Boost the robustness of remote access systems: The VPN enables employees to access Ivanhoé Cambridge’s data and information more quickly from outside our offices, in addition to being safer.
- Add data storage capacity.
- Accelerate the adoption of online work tools.
Cisco WebEx Implementation
We moved up the implementation of our Cisco Webex online meeting software by five weeks, so it would be operational on the first day employees started working from home. We also produced a number of additional training videos, both for Cisco Webex and Microsoft 365, to make the transition even smoother for employees. We also deployed applications to eliminate slowness issues in the Citrix environment.
IT services for employees
Our approaches to providing remote support to employees were adjusted to respond to the various needs of the organization and better meet the increase in demand. This included a review of our processes for ordering new hardware and replacing defective equipment to ensure optimal working conditions for everyone. We also redesigned our onboarding process for new employees and interns to facilitate their integration. They receive their computer equipment at home as well as remote training in how to use it properly.
IC at the Office
We have made new tools available to employees. IC at the Office, an application that enables employees to reserve a time slot at the office, ensures that the building’s occupancy rate does not exceed the maximum allowed capacity (for more details, see the section on Human resources); it also assigns space according to the reservations made.
To keep our employees connected, in collaboration with the members of the 2020 “A Effect” cohort, we have created a professional matching tool called IC connect. The tool allows members of different teams in different geographic areas to meet virtually for informal breaks in order to chat and exchange ideas.
With the high number of employees working remotely, we need to be more vigilant about cybersecurity risks. We therefore revised our safeguards:
- We deployed a new Internet filter directly at each workstation to detect security threats and to provide the same level of protection as for our corporate network. This tool greatly reduces the risk of email phishing attacks.
- We set up tools to update workstations remotely and deployed them in less transparent mode so that users could install them in due course.
- We made additional efforts to make our employees, executives and crisis managers more aware of cybersecurity and confidentiality.
Getting ready to return to the city centre
We have put in place the technology and tools for a gradual return to the workplace, at office buildings and shopping malls alike.
- An innovative mobile application called myProperty gives tenants at Montreal office buildings access to a host of exclusive services and content tailored to each building;
- The conference rooms have been equipped with Teams tools;
- To provide a safe shopping environment during the holiday season, we deployed the Waitwhile virtual line-management system at our Canadian shopping centres. Using this technology, customers can book a time slot on a shopping centre’s website and, once there, track the line through QR codes displayed at participating retailers.