First feedbacks from the Digital workplace managers on COVID-19 crisis

The unprecedented lockdown situation that we are currently going through is mobilizing all the IT teams in a very significant way. Accelerated deployment of communication and collaboration tools, supervision and reinforcement of IT infrastructures, support for the transformation of (tele)working methods, innovation in the support offered to users. What initiatives are currently being undertaken to support this forced transformation? Our Digital Workplace Club (a network led by Wavestone and made up of around twenty Digital Workplace managers who meet quarterly to discuss current issues) has enabled us to draw up an overview.

Woman Using Her Laptop On Video Call

The winning trio to guarantee the best teleworking conditions

An immediate and priority challenge for all companies has been to ensure the continuity of service for essential activities. This raises an underlying question for the Digital Workplace: how do you guarantee the best conditions for teleworking to a very large number of employees working at the same time?

1 – Service resilience

The first challenge was giving remote access to a very large number of people. Infrastructures and networks are under great strain. Two major projects have been carried out, in some cases at the expense of exemptions on group security policies:

  • A one-time capacity transformation with service providers (concurrent remote connections, proxy, doubled bandwidth, increase in phone packages, etc.)
  • Transformation of the flow management strategy (rapid deployment through the Internet for the management of its workstations, giving direct Internet access of certain business applications).

2 – Acceleration of the Digital Transformationtion

In order to provide employees with the essential services that allow them to work in optimal lockdown conditions, the Digital Workplace teams had to innovate. Deploying web conferencing solutions (Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc.) in just a few days, a major player in the transport sector has significantly stepped up its project to switch from Skype to Teams. A shift also taken by the technological companies themselves, drastically accelerating their product development cycles (e.g. the switch from 4 windows to 9 windows on Microsoft Teams; functionality becoming key and whose development has been accelerated). This period is also extremely advantageous for digital collective intelligence players (Mural, Klaxoon), many of whose companies have been led to develop service offers in record time.

3 – Support for employees

This context of accelerating projects requires adapting change management for the employees affected by these transformations, whose mobilization is fundamental to the successful adoption of the new uses. Therefore, as traditional channels are either incompatible (face-to-face training) or overwhelmed (email), certain specific channels have proven their effectiveness: widespread distribution via the corporate social network, speeding up the implementation of Chatbots, organisation of Webcasts with a very large audience (one of our clients gathered up to 1,600 participants for a Microsoft Teams training session).

Monitoring and the ability to track the adoption of these tools has also become a key indicator for HR teams. The central challenge is to avoid the digital divide within the company.

From the point of view of user support, this specific context has led our clients to innovate and offer adapted services: a major account in the banking world, for example, has set up physical permanence of IT kiosks, allowing employees to intervene punctually in case of a critical incident requiring physical intervention (faulty equipment).

All these initiatives, (successful) short-term responses to this unprecedented situation, raise many questions about the post-crisis period. From the way to manage IT projects, to the acceleration of Cloud transformations, to the security approach of the Digital Workplace, one thing is certain: behind the crisis, some opportunities have emerged.

An unprecedented situation that creates opportunities

Short-term adaptations to meet a functional need have disrupted the traditional cycles of service provision; balance between efficiency and control of the Digital Workplace.

« Quick & Success »

The situation required the deployment of services in a very short time frame. The results of adoption and satisfaction are good. If the situation and the need is a response to this observation, it raises several questions about the traditional methodologies of deployment and change management:

  • The employee was able to demonstrate a very high ability to adapt to the situation and to take charge, with a certain autonomy, of new services (a large company explains having deployed Microsoft Teams without traditional support, and the satisfaction and adoption is very high).
  • The personal strategy of company employees has often led to the definition of a policy of equipment provision, more or less advanced access to different services, a strategy turned upside down by this period. A major banking client thus states that it does not wish to go backwards in regard to teleworking after the lockdown, with teleworking being developed within roles which were traditionally considered incompatible.

Developed uses to be maintained while regaining control

Exceptions to corporate policies have been granted within companies: reducing the rate of password renewal, accessing data from personal equipment, but also, more broadly, overhauling teleworking rules. Employees have also been creative in maintaining contact and activities. This has encouraged the development of Shadow IT.

The question in the short term is: should this be banned again post-lockdown? Some initial answers are emerging, notably in the case of a major retail company, which has decided to implement awareness policies on good cybersecurity practices, regardless of the tool used. A focus on awareness rather than prohibition.

Roadmaps to evolve

The forced acceleration of this transformation has (re)highlighted limitations that do not allow an additional digital step to be taken.

This is reflected in 2 areas of work in particular:

  • An application infrastructure that is still too complex to be used on the internal network of companies.
  • Management of devices that do not allow remote working, both because of infrastructures that are not easily accessible outside the internal network and because of inadequate allocation policies (for example, a major energy company had to ensure more than 8,000 laptops were available to its employees in a few days).

The challenge is all the greater as these shifts involve investments, which may go against the budgetary restrictions that this crisis will impose on most companies.

So, what can we take away from this period? A turning point for the Digital Workplace players, which will be reflected in three short-term priorities:


  • Guarantee the consistency and relevance of its Digital Workplace service offering in the face of recently developed new uses (accelerating remote data access, making mobility ever simpler, etc.).


  • Redefine its investment priorities and optimization tools (reducing medium-term transformation projects in favor of projects with direct ROI, such as speeding up the decommissioning of legacy storage or web conferencing solutions, etc.).


  • Adapt its operational model to meet these new needs (reinforce drastically connections between entities) : network and digital Workplace teams, Run and Build teams, significant alignment with the business, etc.).

It is worth mentioning that this crisis has demonstrated the value of IT. Many companies are highlighting the remarkable work of their IT teams, on the front line to support business continuity. It is now valued and identified as a value proposition for the business. This unprecedented situation is therefore proving to be a source of opportunities for the Digital Workplace, one of the short-term challenges of which will also be to succeed in maintaining this link created with the Business.