NAB has revealed it scaled up its use of a secure remote access service from 1000 to 15,000 staff over a three week period to enable more of the bank’s employees to work from home.
Executive general manager of infrastructure, cloud and workspace Steve Day said the bank quickly expanded its use of Zscaler’s cloud-based private access product (or ZPA) as Australia entered lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“ZPA offered just a seamless experience - people could go home, they could turn on their PCs, and it worked exactly the same way as it did in the office without them having to do anything special. That was a real benefit to us,” Day said.
“Today, we're happily working with 15,000 users on our ZPA solution, which is amazing when you consider that three weeks ago, we had less than 1000 working.”
Day said that border closures would have made it too difficult to procure virtual private networking (VPN) equipment to enable those 15,000 staff to work from home.
“VPN relies on equipment in the data centres, it's done with appliances,” he said.
“For us to scale up as rapidly as it was, we'd have to order equipment, and we'd have to wait for it to be delivered. Everything's clogged up in Customs right now, you don't know when you're going to get anything.
“Whereas with Zscaler, it was purely just ‘ramp it up’. It's a cloud based service, it scales beautifully.
‘We didn't need to do anything in terms of infrastructure, and it was the obvious solution.”
ZPA provides “authorised users access to specific applications via encrypted, per-session microtunnels that are only created upon demand”, according to product documentation.
While the initial focus was on “user experience and enabling the business”, Day said there was more the bank could do with ZPA, though he did not elaborate on its plans.
Day said that NAB’s “thousands” of contact centre staff were among those that had now transitioned to remote working arrangements.
“We'd never had a single call that had come into our call centres handled by somebody outside of the office six weeks ago,” he said.
“Now we have about 85 percent of all of our call centre staff working from home.”
Day noted the bank - like others - is also fielding a much higher volume of calls at the same time as transitioning to a new way of working.
“Banks are playing a very large role in enabling the economy through all of the stimulus packages and programs that are coming out right now,” he said.
“We have about three to four times our normal volumes of customers calling in.”
Runs communications via Facebook's Workplace
NAB separately said it is using Workplace from Facebook to communicate with its remotely operating workforce.
“With an unprecedented number of our head office colleagues working remotely, we’ve needed to find ways to keep them connected with their leaders and with each other. Workplace is central to achieving that," chief people officer Susan Ferrer said.
“Communication during a crisis must be multi-way and constant.
"We’re giving our colleagues the opportunity on Workplace to ask any question they want of their leaders and our goal is to answer every single question with transparency and candour.”