Working remotely: a seismic shift in short order
Before COVID-19, Accenture people worked from a variety of locations—from client sites to hotels, Accenture offices or airports. Today, the vast majority of our 721,000 people are set up to securely work remotely in every country where Accenture operates. Around 96% of offices moved to work from home, including people at more than 50 Accenture Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. We quickly enabled remote working for our people working in procurement, payables, and other critical shared services. While this might sound like a small feat, imagine what would have happened if our 300 colleagues who process more than 1.4M invoices a year were unable to work from home.
We sent out more than 80,000 desktop computers to our people within a week. We purchased more than 33,000 Wi-Fi hotspots and enabled more than 230,000 concurrent connections using a Virtual Private Networking (VPN) solution. In India alone, we distributed tens of thousands of laptops and computers in less than a week—in addition to Wi-Fi hotspots and uninterrupted power sources. In addition, our local technology services enabled remote access services for 85,000 VPN users and provided 60,000 dongles to improve connectivity. Our team managed hundreds of one-to-one follow-ups and used our remote website, training and videos to support the shift.
One of our “go-to” solutions has been Microsoft Teams. We are the largest corporate user of Teams, and at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 we saw a massive increase in its usage—as a 257% increase in audio usage and a 642% increase in video usage in one month as remote working demand grew. Teams also offers a global 24/7 chat response for our leaders and a Microsoft Teams Rapid Resource Center, which provides how-to instructions, leading practices and additional resources to help people stay connected.
In Corporate Services & Sustainability, we built a team of 40 people offering global workflow support. We used 11 COVID-19 dashboards to develop reports and tools and answered 990 e-mails over a 24-hour service level agreement. We handled thousands of calls diverted from the Accenture Security Operations Center.
Our security, workplace services, communications and other teams joined forces to create a comprehensive and flexible plan to return to our offices—and our clients’ offices—where permissible. Our plan balanced people’s safety and the needs of our clients in guiding a phased transition back to the office. We had personal protection equipment in 100% of our offices. We established “100 Return to Office Workplace Protocols,” introducing enhanced health and safety protocols, global checklists for office preparation and readiness, communication templates, access to digital health and safety guides, videos and more.
Guiding clients and communities: the Now and the Next
As always, continuing to work closely with our clients was a top priority for everyone at Accenture. We offered advice and support with thought leadership to help our clients emerge stronger from the crisis. Our Marketing teams worked closely with our business thought leaders to publish more than 60 individual pieces of content between March and July 2020 across 19 industries and six functional groups. We also released more than 800 client stories during this time.
Jill Kramer, chief marketing & communications officer at Accenture says, “We produced a collection of robust research-based recommendations that focused on what our clients needed to know to handle the reality of NOW but also what may come NEXT. We saw clients engage with the content at record levels, but our main goal was to help them act swiftly and confidently based on robust data and insights.”
But we also worked together to solve unprecedented challenges facing our communities and industries. For instance, we collaborated with Avanade and Rolls Royce to design, manage and operate a supply chain for hospital ventilators. We organized the purchase and shipment of 3.4 million parts from more than 100 suppliers to three manufacturing locations. The government of the United Kingdom alone ordered 5,000 ventilators via this supply chain.
We worked with Avanade and Microsoft to connect 57 health system procurement departments with a network of vendors. Launching a new service known as Critical Supply Connect, we connected 638 hospitals and 110 suppliers with more than 300 unique products—all in just eight days.
As many businesses stalled and entire industries were unable to operate, unemployment became a pressing societal concern. The chief human resources officers of Accenture, Lincoln Financial Group, Procore and Verizon joined forces to create People + Work Connect, a free employer-to-employer initiative that brings together companies reducing their workforces with companies in urgent need of workers. Over just 14 days in April 2020, People + Work Connect moved from idea to launch, and in the next year more than 270 companies from 94 countries uploaded more than 380,000 roles to the platform.
COVID-19 didn’t stop our efforts in the non-profit sector, either. Accenture Development Partnerships works with leading international development organizations to address the world’s social, economic and environmental issues. We provided pro bono support to Dimagi Inc., a social enterprise that provides open-source software technology for underserved communities, to validate and improve training materials and user guides for COVID-19-related apps deployed on the frontlines. We donated laptops to schools in the Middle East to support eLearning, provided plastic cover pages from binders for assembling protective visors for medical staff in France and purchased 55,000 face coverings from a North America-owned business that donated 100% of profits to its healthcare system.