Inside Adobe's employee-focused COVID-19 response roadmap

A comprehensive business continuity blueprint and advance planning paved the way for Adobe's rapid work-from-home transition, but the focus on employee experience was the key to success.

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When faced with the COVID-19 crisis earlier this year, Adobe’s IT organization, like many others, acted quickly to shift the entire company to a work-from-home situation. For us that meant moving the entire Adobe workforce of more than 22,000 global employees over a single weekend. The pandemic also forced us to focus more critically on such things as collaboration strategies, security, and the employee experience during these challenging times.

Fortunately, while COVID-19 is unique, I have previous experience with this type of challenge and I know the importance of contingency and scenario planning to prepare the IT organization to react to uncertainties. During the SARS coronavirus outbreak in 2003, which spread across two dozen countries in a matter of months before it was contained, I was CIO at a Singaporean shipping line where employees also had to rapidly shift to working from home while continuing to support customers. During the Fall 2018 California fires, I worked with my Adobe team to develop a new set of scenario plans in case we couldn’t get into our San Jose headquarters. Thankfully, there was no need to execute those plans, but it proved to be a valuable exercise for what was to come this year and enabled my team to act quickly when the reality of COVID-19 became apparent.

Planning for business as usual during the unusual

Months before businesses were forced to transition workforces from office to home locations, Adobe had a Global Safety & Security Infectious Disease Plan in place outlining a comprehensive risk management and response framework in the event that a contagious disease impacts personnel, facilities or operations. A key part of this plan is our cloud solutions, which are monitored and operated from several locations around the world, across a multi-vendor and multi-cloud infrastructure model. This helps to ensure our ability to continue to operate our solutions throughout the duration of this or any other critical situation.

Once this plan was put into action in response to COVID-19, the next step was to bolster the infrastructure. We were already foundationally prepared, but we quickly identified a few areas that needed improvement to ensure employee productivity and business continuity. This included enhancing network routing, expanding virtual private network (VPN) bandwidth around the world, and preparing for the increased demand and use of our collaboration tools.

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