As the events of 2020 unfolded, companies worldwide had to rethink their business models and adapt or be left behind. Businesses operating service fleets were deemed essential by the government and business owners had to shift operations in order to operate while ensuring the safety of their employees and clients. These safety measures meant reduced operating hours and reduced staff which resulted in reduced profits.
The global pandemic isn’t over, but savvy businesses have used this experience to take advantage of tools that automate and streamline tasks to allow for a more dispersed workforce without reducing visibility into their day-to-day operations. Perhaps the most notable change in operations country-wide has been the shift to remote work. According to Gallup, a full 33% of Americans were still working entirely remotely in October of 2020 (down from 51% in April 2020). These new conditions required businesses to implement a host of new technologies to stay competitive, from the softwares that make video conferencing possible to the tracking technologies that allow fleets to be dispatched, monitored, and managed.
In this blog, we will cover some of the ways in which service fleets have changed their operations as a result of the pandemic, including the unexpected benefits that have arisen from this troubling global situation. We will also discuss a few of the changes that are likely to stick around in the post-Covid world.
The Mixed Effects of Social Distancing
Requiring a full team of employees in the office, or on each job site, is no longer the safest way to do business. For most companies in the United States, only the people whose jobs need to be performed on site are now required to be present. Telecommuting, or other forms of remote work, are the new normal.
Social distancing laws and guidelines created new workplace practices that had several implications for service fleets, including:
Monitoring Assets and Vehicles Remotely
Small service fleets have made many changes to their daily operations that allow employees to work while remaining distanced from one another. Some of these changes are that employees are frequently permitted to access company vehicles and assets (like equipment) unsupervised, and take vehicles and assets home at the end of the day instead of returning them back to the office each evening.
Technology has enabled management to monitor their vehicles and assets virtually without locking them in a physical facility. GPS tracking systems and other remote monitoring solutions help businesses know who has the equipment, where the equipment has been, where it is currently, and when it was last used. In addition, management can view this information from home on a computer, a tablet or from their mobile devices when they're out in the field, at any time.
New Approaches to Personnel Management
Before the pandemic forced businesses to rapidly shift to a remote workforce, staff was often clocking in and out each day at the office, or required to be at the office before starting their day to pick up equipment and returning the equipment at the end of the workday.
Today, business owners need to ensure their team is working when they are supposed to and employees are oftentimes responsible for keeping track of their individual hours themselves.
While no employee wants to feel monitored throughout the day, measures that ensure accountability can help employees feel that they are continuing to make a difference in their workplace, even if they aren’t interacting with colleagues or clients as frequently.
Throughout 2020, many businesses struggled to find peace of mind with these new employee practices, especially considering the effect of tightened budgets and losses throughout the economy. Technological measures can be taken to address accountability issues, even practices as low-tech as calling employees on the phone to check in throughout the day.
GPS tracking solutions have helped service fleets manage their team virtually by monitoring their vehicles and assets and ensuring that they are arriving and departing on schedule. Poor allocation of assets costs businesses money and this can be avoided by operating a better connected fleet which allows you to improve utilization.
Commercial Real Estate Savings
An unexpected benefit of allowing employees to work remotely has been the downsizing in commercial real estate it has enabled. Companies like Dell estimate that they will save $12 billion annually by encouraging remote work. Even service fleets can benefit from downsizing their physical facilities and constructing “blended environments” that allow for in-person and remote work on a rotating schedule. These environments have proven to be productive and sustainable not just from an operations perspective, but from a social and environmental perspective.
The pandemic has disrupted business, but this doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the situation to automate the visibility you need into your business and stay productive. The changes you implement today will further allow you to have the visibility without the office, so that when things eventually go back to normal you can continue to operate remotely.
Are you looking for a way to maintain productivity without reducing the visibility you need to make informed business decisions?