21 May 2020
As we enter into yet another phase of the enhanced Movement Control Order (MCO) in combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, businesses and workers are still adapting to the new normal – a consequence of the global pandemic. Life in the new normal is anything but ordinary. We spoke to Patrick Khoo, Chief Information Officer at Averis Sdn Bhd on the challenges facing the organisation and its people. He shared with us how the team weathered this trying time the world waits out this crisis.
Q: How have the past nine weeks been for the Averis team?
PK: “Real Leaders are Forged in Crises” and this statement could not be truer for the entire team in Averis. It has been a trying nine weeks for both the organisation and our people as we, and the rest of the world, have been affected by this unprecedented catastrophe. Leaders and team members in every department rose to the challenge and responded to the abrupt and pressing need to deal with an unfamiliar environment, at the same time ensuring a much higher level of efficiency to bring about cross-functional success. This includes infrastructure readiness, work process adaptations and tighter employee engagement programmes among the list. Speed and agility were key for us, in addition to teamwork.
As the team worked relentlessly to ensure operational excellence, we also recognised that our people are struggling with various challenges set forth by both Working from Home (WFH) and the MCO. We have seen Averians having to juggle between work and family, rising amount of household chores, lacking of appropriate infrastructure and equipment such as internet bandwidth and proper workstations, among other difficulties. To help Averians ease some of these, we worked to ensure they enjoy the same conditions and capabilities as before and put in measures to correspond with changes, such as simplifying work procedures, providing additional claim entitlements and even setting up a support team to provide help or just to lend a listening ear during this difficult time.
Q: What was the management’s main focus when responding to the MCO? How does the team stay connected?
PK: Two primary areas of focus for us are the health and safety of our people, as well as the delivery of services to meet our Service Level Agreements (SLAs). When the COVID-19 outbreak caused lockdown in multiple parts of the world and some imported cases were reported in Malaysia, we assumed the foresight to launch a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) simulation to prepare our people for adverse conditions. We simulated various full and partial WFH scenarios, and Averians were already on a rotation to work in the office a month before the MCO was announced. Our efforts paid off when only two-day’s notice was given on the enforcement of MCO. Infrastructure and work processes were immediately put in place and Averians settled in the new work environment swiftly.
To stay connected, we leverage on technology to bring the teams together. The tools employed range from the traditional emails for communications and bulletins to mobile applications for impromptu messaging, and video conferencing applications as substitutes for formal meetings, virtual workshops and even onboarding of new hires. The use of social media such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn continue to bring Averians together on a more casual note. Our IT teams worked feverishly to ensure the timely provisioning of these solutions to cater to a much expanded and distributed user base, to continue supporting and guiding the use of these solutions that helped keep our operations running, and to maintain constant communications with our people on the effective and judicious use of technology and digital platforms.
Keeping the business and our people safe is the priority now and we will continue to ensure that our people are able to deliver services to meet our SLAs in a safe and healthy manner.
Patrick told us that Averis is meeting 100% of its SLAs after overcoming some teething issues in a few areas very quickly. Stay tuned for Part 2 as we take a peek into the key success factors of the Averians maintaining operational and productivity excellence amidst tense challenges.