Like all areas of manufacturing, white goods manufacturers have suffered severe reductions to supplies due to reductions and stoppages on production lines, together with global supply chain disruptions as a result of the pandemic.

At the same time, there has been an upturn in demand for some white goods that make it easier for people to deal with lockdown. Large fridges and freezers, for example, have been in short supply in some regions. Addressing surges in sales and keeping product moving have been major challenges for white goods manufacturers.

This European white goods manufacturer asked Orange Business Services to get its knowledge workers working from home as quickly as possible in order to maintain business momentum and keep employees safe. The company had never in its history had any staff working remotely.

Fulfilling consumer demand for white goods

The white goods manufacturer needed to get 150 of its office-based staff working from home in a very short timeframe. The issue was that it had never had remote workers access its network.

Time was limited as countries were locking down daily, and the fastest way to provision remote access was through firewalls. Orange installed two next-generation firewalls with support for virtual private networks (VPNs), which enabled the remote workers to connect securely to the manufacturer’s network. Users dial in using their own broadband connections via a private VPN connection.

Security for its remote workforce was paramount as the manufacturer has highly-sensitive data on the network. User profiling as part of a remote access policy ensures employees can only access the parts of the manufacturer’s network that they are authorized to enter. The manufacturer plans to further step up security and is currently in discussion with Orange on various options.

The manufacturer’s forced move to telecommuting has been a success among both management and employees. Performance and productivity has been comparable to the office environment.

A flexible future

The project has highlighted the Orange ability to find a fast, efficient and productive route to homeworking. The manufacturer had previously been resistant to the trend of homeworking but is now looking at making homeworking a permanent feature for some staff. Telecommuting, triggered by the pandemic, has shown the manufacturer how it can save on the costs of maintaining a large office and also create a greener company and more motivated staff.

The white goods manufacturer is now in discussions with Orange to introduce permanent telecommuting options. It is evaluating cloud collaboration tools and alternative remote connectivity and security solutions to provide a more agile and flexible workplace in the new normal.

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