Reshaping the Organization

Reshaping the Organization

In this section, we will look at a couple of possibilities to re-shape the organization.

Geographically Distributed Teams

Now that the Work-From-home has been tested, and can be put to use to serve as a motivator and assist staff trying to balance their office life with personal life, this gives us the tools that we would need to extend to building teams that are geographically distributed.

Several organizations have been experimenting with this, and have shown different levels of success with handling distributed teams.  If this can be implemented very successfully and in a very consistent manner, then there is plenty of benefit to the organization.

  1. In an organization that is spread over multiple geographical locations across the country, conducting any training-workshop is not an easy task. It is not only about securing the right Trainer and the infrastructure required for the training; it is also about bringing all the participants under the same roof during the period of the training.  Participants are working out different cities and will have to travel to participate for the live sessions.

           If we are able to structure the organization in such a way that, each location focuses on a core-skill, then any training would be mostly relevant only to the participants of a location or two.             From a management perspective too, this makes it more convenient to be able to plan the development of employees and their Learning requirements.

           When planning for a project, the Team is built by bringing in the workforce with the right skills from each of the relevant location and creating a Virtual Team.

      2.  If the project demands some of the members of the team to work out of the customer’s location, it becomes easy to work if a Virtual distributed team structure can be established. It would             be possible to move staff around between the customer’s site and the base office seamlessly.

Staffing as we need

As employees in an organization, we are used to being in a full-time role and only a small percentage of works are on contract.  The purpose of contract workers is, to get some additional hands when the workload is not manageable with the regular workforce, and to scale back to the regular team once the spike settles back down.

How much should be the regular workforce, and what percentage should be contractors? There is no magic figure that we can give as an answer to this question. A fine balance that has to be maintained in order that schedules-costs-scope can be consistently met.

When the regular workforce is planned for the peak-load, then during the off-load periods, the overheads on the organization by way of idle workers increase.   

At the same time, contract workers are new to the project, and they are very likely to have a learning curve. This means, they are not going to be fully productive for a period of time. If this is to be minimized, it is safer to go with workers who have worked before. Regular workers will work out better in this case.

To work out this optimal combination, it is important to identify those roles that are absolutely required to be staffed with full-time workforce, and this is to be kept at the very minimum that is required.  And, the rest can be contract workers.  If this strategy is sharpened to work very well, organizations can benefit very significantly. This helps in lowering the cost, and also saving the expenses in hard times. 

Re-shaping of the organization thus, may not be strictly connected with the COVID lockdown. The COVID lockdown presents a good opportunity where the old ways of doing things can be re-shaped to new normal, with an optimal combination of resources.

Re-skilling of Employees

Any form of Learning and Development activity is being discussed under this topic of Re-skilling. It is very important for both the organization and for the individuals to be continuously learning and upgrading their skills.

Nominating employees for trainings and workshops also serve as a motivation; at times, it is also doled out as a reward for performance.

Re-skilling and development is a double-edged sword. For the benefit of the organization in enabling newer technologies to be deployed in projects, appropriate skilling of the staff is required.  At the same time, the new skills add to the profile of the employee and it makes him or her more attractive in the job-market, and thus the organization can lose them to competition.

Industry 4.0 impacts every industry. And, to keep pace with the changes that it brings in, every industry is being forced to re-skill their employees.  How then can we encourage re-skilling in a responsible way?

The Unlock, following the pandemic, is a right time to re-phrase the ownership for re-skilling.  Focus should not be on any Training or Workshop – but, on the skills that the employee manages to build and bring to the table.   The responsibility of building the skill will be on the employee, not with the company.  If they build the skills, they are seen as attractive proposition for the corresponding project.  Tie this up with the earlier discussion on re-balancing the contract workforce, we can evolve a mechanism where the employee creates their training plans and pursue them, while the company pays them for the skills that they can get on the work.

Concluding Remarks

After a long period of lockdown due to the COVID pandemic, organizations have started to put their plans in place for opening up the office and bringing employees back to the office-floor.  As part of the plans, it is time to strategize on how the ways of working, rules of engagement, structure of the organizations can be altered to build an organization designed for the next decade or two.

The current situation is like, one where the machinery has all been brought to a halt, and as we are getting ready to re-start the machinery, it is time to get it serviced to work in its prime condition. So also, is the case with the organization as it gets ready to come out of the slumber and gallop on, it is the best opportunity to make big changes that can get the organization Leaner and Agile.

About the Author

Dr. Anand Lakshmanan is a Senior-Member of IEEE, a Technologist and an Organization builder. He is currently pursing advisory and consulting roles for EdTech companies, and member of curriculum committee and Senate in Institutes of National repute.

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