During the COVID-19 crisis, digital working comes into its own at Saubermacher

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the face of day-to-day work at Saubermacher. Thanks to a digital workplace strategy based on Citrix technologies, the waste disposal company was able to quickly adapt to the new situation and fully support its employees with working remotely from their homes. As a result, networked working in virtual teams will play a greater role for Saubermacher in the future.

Saubermacher Dienstleistungs AG is an international waste disposal and recycling company based in Feldkirchen bei Graz. The family-owned company is a trusted partner for 1,600 districts and 40,000 companies and employs around 3,350 staff in Austria, Germany, France, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary and the United Arab Emirates. Every year, it carries out the sustainable recycling of more than 3.5 million tonnes of waste.

All of Saubermacher’s activities are governed by a zero waste philosophy. The company’s mission is to ensure that a large proportion of all the end-of-lifecycle materials it handles are recycled. The aim is to create an almost uninterrupted lifecycle for materials in which almost no waste is created, and everything will be reused in the future. Thanks to a constant stream of new ideas and innovations, the company’s in-house research and development team, as well as collaborations with universities, customers and industry partners, Saubermacher has become a pioneer in waste logistics and the reclaiming and recycling of vital raw materials.

Saubermacher incorporates the zero waste philosophy in its own organisation too. Thanks to high recycling rates, the company saves approximately 612,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, and in many areas it is not merely climate neutral, but climate positive. The GRESB environmental institute has twice nominated Saubermacher as the most sustainable waste disposal company in the world.

The challenges: Networked organisation and dynamic business growth

In order to become a one-stop shop offering its international clients all the services they require, Saubermacher has built up a close-knit network of locations and partnerships. Represented at around 80 locations in seven countries, the company is able to offer comprehensive waste disposal and recycling services at a reliable level of quality. The various business units, most of which are highly specialised, work closely together and to create smart, integrated solutions with the aid of digital technologies.

The networked organisation and fast growing-business have also had a huge impact on Saubermacher’s IT capabilities: “We must be in a position to support the many different business units in our company on a very flexible basis,” says Alexander Wallner, Group Head of IT Services at Saubermacher. “This includes making new applications available as quickly as possible or linking new company locations to the IT infrastructure within the space of a day. This is why we have been using Citrix technology for a long time now.”

From centralised application provision to the digital workplace

During the past few years the company has methodically implemented a digital workspace strategy for all the company’s locations. The company was supported in this endeavour by ACP X-tech, the competence centre for the digital workspace of IT solution partner ACP. “ACP X-tech has provided us with highly professional support through all the phases of this process – from the conception of the strategy to the comprehensive and area-wide rollout,” says Alexander Wallner. “Even now, in our current operations, we still rely on the third level support from ACP X-tech and their lifecycle management.”

Practically all the business applications and user desktops of Saubermacher are now provided centrally via a Citrix virtual app and desktop infrastructure in two redundantly-designed data centres. All users revert to the same desktop image – thanks to Citrix Provisioning Services, changes to the operating system and applications only need to be established once and are then immediately available to the whole environment.

At the workspaces, PCs have largely been replaced by thin clients. This means that the maintenance requirement for end devices is minimal. “Now we hardly need any on-site presence to be able to get new locations up and running,” Wallner says. “We simply send the required number of thin clients, which the users connect themselves, and then they can start working immediately.”

Mobile users were also integrated in the digital workspace concept. Saubermacher uses Citrix Endpoint Management to manage more than 700 smartphones and tablets centrally. This includes not only Apple-based end devices, but also the Android tablets used by the truck drivers. Samsung Knox devices were used for mobile order management and to provide optimised route planning and needs-related waste disposal intervals, among other functions.

All remote access to the internal IT infrastructure is secured by means of two virtual Citrix Gateway appliances in the computer centre. These encrypt all communications and also integrate a two-factor authentication process that will be based on a Citrix one-time password in the future.

Furthermore, the company also introduced a solution for the filing and joint processing of documents using Citrix Content Collaboration. As a result, users can easily synchronise all their data using different end devices and even share data with other contacts. This solution also offers functions such as Feedback and Authorisations, which has made the switch to digital workflows so much easier for Saubermacher.

Reacting quicker to new challenges – even in exceptional situations

With the aid of individual components from Citrix Workspace, Saubermacher was able to fulfill all the demands of the digital workspace strategy. Users now have a modern working environment at their fingertips that delivers guaranteed cutting-edge performance on every end device. Adjustments to meet new market and customer requirements can be made very quickly, as needed. In addition, the Citrix solution has contributed to reducing administrative work and the running costs for IT workspaces.

The greatest challenge to overcome however was posed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. To reduce the risk of infection and maintain the legally-prescribed distance requirements, the vast majority of the workforce switched to working from home.

“Thanks to the Citrix solution we were able to respond extremely quickly in this situation,” says Alexander Wallner. “In less than one weekend we were able to make it possible for all our office workers to access their applications and data from home.”

There wasn’t even a need to acquire new end devices. Most users simply installed the Citrix Workspace app on their private computers, enabling them to securely access their digital workspace. Other users were provided with company-owned Notebooks. The Citrix infrastructure in the computer centre was also more than able to meet the challenge: “Our servers and gateways have enough capacity to be able to deal with a large number of remote users,” says Wallner.

User experience as the key factor

“In this exceptional situation it was particularly important to focus on the users’ requirements,” stresses Wallner, leaning on his IT experience. “In the conference calls with our COVID-19 crisis management team, every day the conversation revolved around how we could best support our workers.”

One of Saubermacher’s solutions was to use Microsoft Teams in the short term to make virtual communication in online meetings and video chats easier. The internet link to ensure there was sufficient bandwidth available for all services at all times was therefore created.

As an additional support for employees working from home, Saubermacher introduced the Citrix RightSignature e-signature solution during the COVID-19 crisis. This means that all employees are now able to sign contracts digitally and can obtain signatures from customers or service providers via email. It also meant that the switch to digital processes could be further accelerated.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from our users, who say that the switch to working from home has functioned really smoothly thanks to Citrix,” concludes Alexander Wallner. “An in-house survey showed user satisfaction at over 90 percent.”

Back to a new normal

In the meantime, while numerous users have returned to work at the office, the remote working concept remains an important part of Saubermacher’s corporate strategy. The company intends to structure its working environment with more emphasis on the needs of virtual teams in the future. “During this crisis we have seen how vital networking and seamless digital collaboration really are,” says Alexander Wallner. “That is why we fully intend to further explore the route we have embarked on with Citrix and ACP X tech. We are currently considering operating the Citrix Workspace in the Cloud in the future and also further expanding the integration of services such as Microsoft Teams.”

We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from our users, who say that the switch to working from home has functioned really smoothly thanks to Citrix. An in-house survey showed user satisfaction at over 90 percent.
Alexander Wallner
Head of Group IT Services
Saubermacher Dienstleistungs AG


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