Dubai Airports, operator of Dubai International airport, has implemented Microsoft Teams to facilitate hybrid working environments for its more than 2,000 employees and carry out major maintenance and improvement works on its train systems, airfield and buildings during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As an important source of income in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai Airports had two main priorities when Covid-19 hit: to keep its cargo operations running to maintain the supply of necessary commodities and to restart passenger traffic in a better position after the pandemic. The business had laid the groundwork for rapid digital transformation a year before. “We wanted to move away from personal to online meetings in order to save time from having to drive around the airport,” said Mohamed Khalfan, vice president of airport logistics and airfield engineering at Dubai Airports.
When the pandemic hit and people were encouraged to work from home where possible, Dubai Airports implemented Microsoft Teams in two days, enabling its 2,000 employees to continue working safely from home.
During the downtime caused by the pandemic and the associated travel restrictions, Dubai Airports also used Teams to oversee maintenance and repair tasks. For example, it was able to test its back-up power generation system via Teams, which enabled staff to detect and resolve issues.
The collaboration platform was also integral to facilitating international collaboration, according to Michael Ibbitson, executive vice president of technology and infrastructure at Dubai Airports. “Our train system comes from Mitsubishi, Japan,” he said. “Since experts weren’t able to fly in during lockdown, we virtually connected our engineers and technicians with the Japanese experts on motors, brake systems and signalling systems. They guided our technicians and engineers live over video calls. They then inspected and validated the work after completion and certified it accordingly. What could have been costly and time consuming to bring our Japanese experts on-site for three months was done efficiently over Teams.”
The implementation of Teams has saved Dubai Airports a significant amount of time and improved productivity. “Teams is here to stay,” said Basant Elzonfoly, senior manager of digital enablement at Dubai Airports. “It's a functional application that's essential to the business. It also enables more flexibility in the workplace for our employees. We now only meet once every two or three weeks physically. Most meetings are now held on Teams without the need to travel back and forth.”
Moving forward, the firm intends to continue using the platform to improve operations. “Once all restrictions are removed and we are able to continue meeting safely again, we'll put webcams next to [presentation] screens so that people from different buildings can join a meeting. It would be a hybrid mode, as people within the same building could still get together, but the meeting would also be recorded so people can watch it afterwards,” said Ibbitson. “Microsoft Teams has really introduced the flexibility we need in our airports. When we can adapt easily to managing meetings and interactions online, it makes a huge difference in our work.”