Quick thinking is critical to the success of most organizations – and that’s in “normal times”. 

When COVID-19 lockdowns came into force, adaptability to implement a clear strategy – at pace – was a matter of business survival. Companies everywhere embarked on what has been called the world’s largest work-from-home experiment

Getting there hasn’t been easy. From ready-to-go homeworking solutions to reassuring customers and suppliers, businesses have been forced to implement solutions in the space of just a few days that may previously have been planned to take months to complete; companies like the global consultancy and construction firm Mace. 

The day after the UK government announced its lockdown, the British company – known for its iconic projects like The Shard and the London Eye –  temporarily suspended work on all its construction projects, putting the safety of its employees and the communities they work in, first.

Behind the builders stood an army of support staff – and they needed a rapid plan for homeworking.

“The global implementation of Microsoft Teams played a mammoth role in ensuring we glued together as an organization,” says Michelle Barkess, Chief Information Officer at Mace.

That implementation was achieved at an unprecedented pace.

Mace is known for iconic projects including the London Eye and the Shard. Source: Shutterstock

The challenge

With the UK’s coronavirus lockdown imminent, Mace faced a major hurdle: thousands of workers were about to set up home offices, and its internal communications system needed to be ready.

Mace was also in the process of migrating its data centres.

The long-planned, complex rollout of an alternative collaboration tool – Microsoft Teams – was forecast to take three months.

At stake was the need to maintain a web of sensitive relationships, supporting entire Mace business. The situation was mission critical.

Rapid action

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) had been a partner of Mace on its digital transformation strategy for less than a year when the crisis hit. 

An effective remote system was essential to TCS’ central solution for lockdown working: Secure Borderless Workspaces™  – a model that ensures business continuity by enabling homeworking with minimal office-based support.

TCS’ Secure Borderless Workspaces™ ensures business continuity when working from home. Source: Shutterstock

The right technology was also crucial to making the best decisions: “Like companies all over the globe, the Mace board urgently needed a stable collaboration tool to plan for COVID-19,” says Seema Mehra, VP and Global Business Unit Head for TCS Energy & Resources for UK, Europe and ANZ. 

So working closely with Mace, the TCS team attempted an ambitious timetable: a 24-hour Microsoft Teams rollout.

At any time, the challenges – from legal constraints to employee knowledge gaps – of delivering a new communication package for more than 6,000 employees and consultants are daunting.

But working around the clock, the TCS team ran parallel operations to deliver the task in a day: enabling software licences quickly for the entire Mace estate while simultaneously developing a crash course for all staff to ramp up knowledge at speed. 

The London IT team also stripped and shipped dozens of computer monitors to the homes of Mace staff and took control of the data centre migration.

Seema Mehra, VP and Global Business Unit Head for TCS Energy & Resources for UK, Europe and ANZ. Source: TCS

People power

In a crisis, resilience and adaptability at global scale can provide the ability to leverage extra help and expertise. This proved critical during lockdown.

TCS pulled in support from teams in India to help deliver the ambitious timetable. The result was an organization that was able, as Michelle Barkess says, to meet the challenge of the pandemic with “agility and flexibility”.

For Michelle, the global rollout of Microsoft Teams was a “game changer”, enabling the business to come successfully through the ‘resolve’ and ‘resilience’ phases of its plan.

“The business is very much of the view that it can indeed work effectively from home and this is a direct result of implementing the right collaboration tool,” Michelle says.

Seema adds, “TCS team is somewhat new to Mace, but has navigated the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic with agility while supporting Mace’s business. TCS is committed to be Mace group’s growth and transformation partner.”

Mace’s story is an example of the ability of the right technology, combined with strategy and speed, to bring people together at an extraordinary time.