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Case Study: Incisive Media tests mobile working strategy during Olympics period

09 Aug 2012
Aerial image of the Olympics Park

In the run-up to the Olympics, businesses were warned to prepare for London's busiest summer, when the capital was expecting four million extra people and public transport was set to see a potential 25 per cent increase in commuters.

Along with these warnings, a good deal of media hype emerged, questioning whether London's transport system could cope with the city's expected number of visitors.

The reality fell short of the worst that was expected. The transport system held up to the pressure, with a few delays but no major issues, though much of this may have been due to the work-from-home strategies employed by many London firms.

The V3 team were among those ready to work from home as part of publishing company Incisive Media's Olympics preparation strategy.

We caught up with the head of infrastructure and support, Matt Kennedy, to discuss the realities of preparing a business to deal with a chaotic situation, where many of its hundreds of employees may not be able to get in to the office.

Incisive Media head of infrastructure and support Matt KennedyKennedy said he had begun preparations months back.

"With our offices in central London, we found ourselves bang in the middle of the Olympics. And so we started to discuss at the back end of last year how we were going to manage the event," he said.

"We got approached by a government appointed agency that was doing the rounds of local businesses. They spoke to us about the problems we may experience during the Olympics period, and how to prepare. They actually scared the willies out of us. They said the Tubes would get ridiculously busy."

Kennedy said the basic message he had received from the agency had been to try and keep London employees off the public transport as much as possible to make room for all those attending the Olympics.

In April, the Incisive Media IT department began detailed conversations with the HR team, facilities staff, and the heads of the London-based editorial and production departments to discuss how the firm could work more flexibly during the event.

"We were already supporting senior executives at the company on some Cisco [VPN] kit, but it was eight years old and it would not have been great in supporting a large number of people to work from home during the Olympics. It allowed to us to support 200 people with remote access but we struggled to manage 50 people simultaneously," said Kennedy.

For this reason, the IT department invested in new Cisco AnyConnect technology to give Incisive Media staff secure remote access to the company network, using their device of choice.

"This deployment was done in parallel with the company's remote working strategy. The technology has the potential to support all UK staff working from home. We are licensed to run up to 250 concurrent users. You can just download the software certificate off the web and automatically install it on user devices," said Kennedy.

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Rosalie Marshall

Rosalie Marshall is the special projects editor and chief reporter at V3. Previously she was a reporter for IT Week and channel editor for online television site Rosalie covers government IT, business applications, IT skills, open source technology and social networks.

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