How PwC Achieved a Work-from-Home Model

Long before the business world’s sudden shift to remote work due to COVID-19, “normal” at PwC meant providing flexibility in where we work. Mobility is key to PwC’s business and our culture – PwC partners and staff work from our offices, client sites, airplanes, hotels and our homes, all over the world.

Today, due to stay-at-home restrictions, PwC has 225,000+ people working remotely and most often seamlessly, without interruption to the business. Long before the current circumstances, we were making technology decisions and investments to be prepared for this.

The journey to transform remote access to the PwC network began about five years ago when we decided to modernize our architecture. We deployed Prisma Access, which is a global remote access solution from Palo Alto Networks, to provide a seamless, on-demand, work-from-anywhere experience that met our security requirements. 

The COVID-19 pandemic, in a matter of a few short weeks, has forced our entire global team to work from home for an undetermined length of time. Our ability to support a massive, global, remote workforce with little or no technical disruption, is because of the investments previously made. Today, we have enough capacity for our partners and staff to connect to the PwC network with multiple devices at the same time. 

Having the right technology in place to achieve a scalable work from home model is critical right now. No one knows how long these stay-at-home measures may be in place. If your organization may be challenged to continue with business as usual, here are some things to consider either now or in the future for how you manage remote access:

  • Adopt an internet-first remote access architecture to simplify employee access and improve connectivity. With the right security controls in place, leveraging the cloud can yield faster and more secure connectivity with a better experience when accessing applications, at a lower cost.
  • Enhance your security posture by obtaining visibility of inbound and outbound traffic, no matter where your people are, to safeguard your organization and confirm compliance with local regulatory requirements.
  • Incorporate cloud gateways as part of your remote access solution for elasticity to help handle unanticipated changing work dynamics like the current state, and account for people using multiple devices. 

PwC is fortunate that, for the most part, our business lends itself to remote working. There are many sectors where remote work may not be feasible, such as the hospitality industry among others, that are the hardest hit in the current pandemic. But for the majority of knowledge-based workers, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the single largest work-from-home scenario the global business community has ever experienced. The world of work may be forever changed as a result. While I would have preferred a very different scenario to test resiliency, I appreciate our technology and security teams’ efforts over the past several years in preparing to help meet the challenges that are being faced today.

Is everything working perfectly? Transitioning our workforce of more than 225,000 people to remote hasn’t been without a few hiccups here and there. But taking things into consideration, PwC partners and staff are connecting, working, and serving our clients with very minimal disruption. In fact, the use of video cameras on conference calls has increased quite dramatically, evidence that our people are embracing technology to its fullest to stay more personally connected with each other and our clients during this difficult time.

Like other businesses, PwC is learning and adapting as the situation evolves. There are some things that technology simply cannot replace. A lot of people enjoy coming into the office. Certain cultures are more “face-to-face” than others and the idea of working at home feels isolating or unnatural. Some types of client work are better suited to be delivered in person. But until then, the internet-first approach to remote access means that PwC continues to be here for our workforce and clients, anywhere, anytime.

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details. This content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors.

James Shira is Principal, Global, and US Chief Information and Technology Officer, PwC. This post was originally published by James Shira on LinkedIn. Learn more about how Prisma Access is powering the new normal, and how Palo Alto Networks is helping to secure and scale remote workforces during this critical time.

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