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Jeffrey Cohen, VP of IT and acting VP of regulatory and quality for medical device maker Magellan Biosciences, knows something about supporting a far-flung workforce. Magellan's nearly 300 employees produce four product lines at five sites on two continents, and it wasn't always a unified undertaking. "IT had the challenge of making this geographic distance feel and act smaller," Cohen says. Three of the company's six top executives don't live near any of the company's physical sites.
Magellan represents the new face of mobility--less the cliché teleworker in pajamas, more whenever, wherever communication.
To streamline collaboration, Cohen's team is following a four-phased plan. First, Magellan forms relationships the old-fashioned way, by flying employees to a central location for training and orientation. "We also deployed a robust corporate directory so that people could find one another," says Cohen.Second, Magellan boosted WAN capacity and consolidated on one wireless provider to cut costs. Third, the company moved its e-mail and customer-facing platform to the cloud. "This solved two problems," says Cohen.
"First, there were no more network bottlenecks. Second, remote support was greatly simplified." Both applications can now be accessed from anywhere, no VPN required. Finally, Cohen is in the process of deploying new tools to support remote work, including Skype, Webcams, and a teleconferencing and Web conferencing system that simplifies presentation sharing.
"The effort is beginning to pay off in ways we had not considered," he says. "We recently needed to recruit a very difficult executive hire in the quality area and found the perfect person--in Puerto Rico. She wanted the flexibility to work from home, and we were able to feel comfortable that this was both feasible and efficient."