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The tech solution that enabled 90% of staff to work from home. An interview with Giles Cook, ResQ’s CTO

Read on to discover how they did it and why it was crucial to do so in record time.

Giles, we’re extremely impressed that you managed to enable almost 1,000 workers to work from home so quickly! Please can you give us a brief summary of your homeworking solution?
The ResQ homeworking solution makes use of our existing Azure infrastructure which hosts our world-class telephony systems supplied by Noetica and its supporting services. As ResQ was an early adopter of the Cloud, our experience has enabled us to build a secure homeworking solution in record time – faster than our competitors and we have now rolled this out into live for the majority of our staff including agents, support and managers.

The core of the solution focuses on delivering the same voice and data systems that an agent would access from within a ResQ site into a home working environment, securely. One of the main components is a ResQ device (laptop or PC) hardened by ResQ Antivirus and endpoint protection. Other main components include secure access to ResQ services via a TLS 1.2 standard VPN, ResQ and client data systems delivered in a sandbox environment using Remote Desktop Services and voice delivered to agent mobile phones as the dumb end point using either secure SIP or PSTN dial back.

The fundamentals of the solution are only possible due to our extensive use of Azure Cloud infrastructure which has enabled us to roll out, at scale very quickly, the homeworking solution. ResQ has achieved this capability in less time than our competitors and clients – once again proving that we have the edge in technology.

How long did it take to develop?
Phase one took three weeks in total, with phase two taking a further three weeks.

Did you encounter any challenges?
Although the solution was made much easier by our existing Cloud infrastructure, the government lockdown has driven Cloud use up massively. For example, Azure has seen a 700%+ increase in volume.

This caused us quite a lot of issues as we had our solution built in advance of the lockdown but scaled back prior to use. When we tried to upscale for full use, we ran into capacity limits that Microsoft had imposed which we were not expecting. We had to quickly improvise to get around this major obstacle by scaling out to other Azure regions, which fortunately we were able to do in time.

Another obstacle was that of varying security requirements being required from our clients. These requirements had some common ground, but often they have been bespoke. To facilitate these requirements has required flexibility and the features of our Azure based infrastructure. As a result of our client’s security requirements, ResQ now has a standard enterprise standard secure model which is now the baseline for the homeworking solution.

Finally, can you tell me in your own words why it was important for you to get this solution up and running so quickly?
Quite simply, the survival of ResQ was at stake. We were initially worried that the government would ban large gatherings of over 500 people and that’s what inspired us to get a head start and move forward as quickly as possible.

Once the social distancing measures were brought in we wanted to protect our most vulnerable, including diabetics of which we employ many, pregnant women and anyone with underlying health conditions. We didn’t feel it was right to make them come in. We also wanted to provide a solution for working parents if the schools shut. So whilst homeworking was most definitely about business continuity, our business is our people and without them we’ve had it!

Our number one priority was protecting our people, our most vulnerable and protecting their wages and livelihoods. It was imperative we have the solution up and running before the lockdown.

By having a homeworking solution, we have enabled staff who have self-isolated to continue working and provide ResQ and themselves an income.

At ResQ, we feel we have a duty of care to our staff and clients that’s not just about sickness, but also about maintaining economic activity in the UK.

To read our Case Study on ResQ click here