In our ‘AHA’ Moments – 5 in 5 leadership conversation series, we spend 5 minutes with inspiring leaders who are making a difference through their leadership, asking five critical questions of the now.
To kick-off, we are in conversation with Brent Churchill, Co-Founder and CEO of Enlighten, to explore the new reality and the role of operational resilience in managing the elastic workforce. Read on to get his insights.
What was a key ‘AHA’ moment for you during the last few months?
The biggest AHA has been how businesses have been able to mobilise their workforce to work from home (WFH) and also how this can transition into a more permanent way of working. This transition has not been smooth for many companies that did not have the right technology or management practices in place, but now they have had to make it work. It appears that many organisations are planning on exploring this way of working, looking to a blended manner which will significantly reduce workers travelling.
The other AHA moment was the effect on offshore operations and the reliance on outsourcing when there was no contingency when these centres had to close. All organisations affected had to scramble to engage their onshore operations to fill this gap, and those with the right visibility around their workforce and workload were able to navigate this with a lot less pain. All organisations will now be structuring their workforce to have contingencies, and a number of them will be bringing work back onshore.
What does operational resilience involve?
We’ve long since championed Operational Excellence here at Enlighten but what we’re seeing more and more is that it starts with resilience. Operational resilience is the ability to assess operational challenges and modify operations to meet those challenges while fulfilling their customer, staff and regulatory obligations. To do this, organisations need to have the right information, the right systems and the right management behaviours and culture to assess the situation, make informed decisions and can carry out those decisions. It is about having proactive practices in place so that challenges are met head-on rather than being reactive and losing control to the detriment of all stakeholders. Ultimately, leaders must be looking at building their agility and sustainability to fit any future circumstance.
What does the elastic workforce mean for you?
Having an elastic workforce is having the ability to change and shift a workforce to meet changing demands. This requires a flexible, multiskilled workforce and a management framework that can implement change as a team. It also needs the right technology, such as effective workflow management systems, to channel the right work to the right people at the right time. Having legacy in-house systems is a significant barrier to achieving this, and organisations should be investing in cloud-based solutions that enable work to be done from anywhere. Multiple organisations are running blind, and those that do not have the visibility or the management structure or the means to distribute work effectively will be left behind as everyone else leverages the elastic workforce.
How did Enlighten embrace the elastic workforce?
Enlighten enacted its pandemic plan very early and moved all staff to work from home before the introduction of restrictions. Because we have all the management practices such as planning, forecasting, regular structured meeting, workload and performance measures etc. in place already, we were able to transition our workforce to work remotely seamlessly. It has had a positive effect on our teams, and the performance has shown this. Enlighten will blend this into our operations, moving forward and maintain an elastic workforce that meets the needs of the company and staff.
What is the new normal at Enlighten?
From an operational and technical perspective, Enlighten will operate very differently from here on in with the vision to create a better work-life balance for all our staff. Delivering the Enlighten solution has always been very hands-on and client location-centric. We have adjusted our work practices to enable this to be done remotely for a large portion of our delivery, and that will remain to a certain degree once ‘normal’ life resumes. From a technical perspective, our workforce will be flexible and elastic, which will enable us to deliver on expectations and to schedule while maintaining the social fabric of the organisation.