Will History Repeat Itself?
Creating Flexible Workforce Solutions that Finally Work
I remember it was a beautiful sunny day in New York City. Then, in an instant, confusion. Shaking ground. Chaos. People covered in soot. Darkness. Silence.
It’s hard to believe 9/11 happened nearly two decades ago. Yet it remains so vivid in my mind precisely because of what it shares with the current crisis created by the global health pandemic. As a result of both tragedies, we ultimately had to face a harsh reality: There was no choice but to think differently about how and where we work.
As fast as things change, they also stay the same
9/11 certainly informed a new way of working. Most notably, it forced U.S.-based financial services companies to quickly assess their business and geographic risk given their operations were highly concentrated in the NY/NJ area. Companies across all industries with dense, centralized corporate headquarters located in metropolitan areas across the globe followed suit. The answer then was to move certain business areas such as operations and technology centers to remote locations like Edinburgh, Jacksonville, Tampa, and Raleigh; and offshore to multiple locations across India and Malaysia. This transition took many months; for some it took years.
Through a catastrophic event that exposed significant business risk, companies found that setting up operations away from corporate headquarters could be successful–even outside the direct, physical command and control management structures and office spaces that leaders embraced for decades.
What should have changed—but sadly did not—was the old-school view that building competitive advantage was reserved for those who work as full-time employees. Although evolving contingent labor solutions provided flexibility, temporary workers continued to be marginalized and reduced to a commodity managed by procurement. Further, the notion of a true remote worker—any resource enabled through technology to work from any location on their own and not just working in a physical remote facility away from the company’s epicenter—was never embraced.
Some may question these ideas: we didn’t have Zoom in 2001. Contingent labor solutions were not as sophisticated as they are today. There was little underlying data, and technology utilization was sporadic. Workers didn’t seek to be independent by choice. All true.
I would argue the pivot toward true remote work started with 9/11. Yet it took a pandemic to expose the critical business decision that still remains: developing flexible workforce strategies designed to endure crises, promote flexibility to scale when necessary, leverage all categories for the skills and value each offers, and drive required business results.
Here's what we're doing about it
I started Chateau Consulting in 2019—prior to COVID-19’s grip on the world. But this pandemic has certainly, in my mind, reinforced my view that it takes dedication to an ideal and self-aware insight to learn from both the painful past and current crises.
Post 9/11, we as practitioners had an extraordinary chance to truly push how we engage and enable talent across permanent and all contingent categories. Yet we didn’t push the envelope far enough.
Companies reimagined their location strategy but not their talent engagement and delivery model, reverting to a random mix of disconnected service, technology, and governance solutions that to this day still don’t address true agile business needs.
Today’s business complexity is even more daunting than it was 20 years ago. I think the best minds in the industry recognize that a huge disconnect remains between suppliers, service providers, and talent. What continues to keep me up at night is, with so many solutions out there, why is it still so hard for businesses to procure talent? For a hiring manager to have simple visibility across their entire team regardless of category? For talent to be valued for their workstyle just as much as the skills they possess?
With Chateau Consulting, it is important for me to build a company that solves these critical issues from a raw and authentic point of view.
To do that, we need to be advocates for all key stakeholders: clients, suppliers, service providers, technology, and talent. The result is that, through our services, we are able to provide a 360-degree view into how the process should work, whether we are talking to technology providers, an MSP or RPO, suppliers of talent, talent themselves—or the client executive team who simply want to better understand exactly what’s needed to initiate change. This is what my team and I are doing every day.
We are simplifying the process. Helping our clients understand and take action on data. Helping them implement effective program governance by taking ownership of process, risk mitigation, and outcomes. Helping them audit behaviors. And helping them create sustainable change that promotes value and is embedded within the fabric of doing business.
2021 is shaping up to be a year of hope, transition, and re-birth. Don’t let this opportunity for a fresh approach to your workforce construct pass you by. It’s the reason we are here.
About Chateau Consulting
Chateau Consulting is a boutique workforce solutions consultancy positioned to solve program complexity resulting from multiple talent sources, inefficient processes, disparate technology, changing market conditions, and lack of true governance. Founded by Tom Kaminsky, Chateau offers a team of experts who have operated in the industry since the 1990s and bring an unrivaled wealth of knowledge and experience in all workforce solutions-related matters. Learn more at chateau-consulting.com.