The Importance of Ensuring Our Engineers Feel Safe as We build the Recovery

Sep 20, 2020 • FeaturesAly PinderIDCManaging the Mobile WorkforceField Service News Digital Symposium

In this first excerpt from an in-depth interview on the Field Service News Digital Symposium IDC's Aly Pinder Jr, talks to Kris Oldland about the importance of ensuring our engineers feel protected and valued as we face ongoing concerns over a second wave of lockdowns as we approach the final quarter of 2020...

2020 has been the most testing of years. We have had to rethink our approach to almost everything as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns that have been ensuing for over six months now. While some parts of the world have reopened such as Germany, others such as Sweden never really closing down, others such as the UK and Australia remain on a precipice, waiting with various regional lockdowns and the threat of the return of nationwide lockdowns hanging in the air like a dark, ominous cloud.

We never expected to it to take quite so long to 'flatten the curve', back in April we were already planning on what the recovery might look like yet, as we approach the final quarter of 2020 we are still holding meaningful discussions about how we operate within such uncertain parameters.

Back in April this year, IDC's Aly Pinder Jr joined Kris Oldland, Editor-in-Chief, Field Service News, for a discussion that rings as pertinent today as then, perhaps even more so. The discussion centred around the understanding the human equation to our engineers. As Pinder commented, "these are not just resources we are sending out, these are people."

At the time of the interview, it was a conversation against a backdrop of frantic scrambling as companies all across our industry adapted to the unprecedented lockdowns, and a radical rethinking of how field service operations could be delivered was created on the fly. With much of that thinking now complete, with more robust processes in place, innovative technologies that allow for remote service delivery in embraced, we are for sure much better placed to cope with further lockdowns as international governments react to the potential threat of a 'second wave.'


"I think having a daily check in the same way that we do in our white collar jobs, is important..."
- Aly Pinder Jr, IDC


Yet Pinder's thoughts from back in April still resonate powerfully. While those of us in office-based roles are now well transitioned into the routine of home working. Our engineers in many cases will still need to be out in the world, working, keeping essential services moving. How do we ensure that they feel protected and valued at such a time?

"I think the first thing is communication," Pinder explained.

"We don't all have the most appreciation for real time collaboration as we do in a more white collar scenario. For our technicians, oftentimes the environment they're working in is they have an application or a laptop that they open up and they walk through a checklist of items to close out a work order. I think we're getting to the point where we understand the technology that's out there to provide us with real time collaborative tools," he continues.

"The opportunity is to go in whatever way in which your technicians are willing to interact with you, whether it be the phone or a newsletter that provides them with a daily update or an email that you check-in and understand, this is what we hope for us to be able to deliver today and asl is there anything that's going to keep you from attaining those goals? And do that on somewhat of a daily perspective.

"I think having a daily check in the same way that we do in our white collar jobs, is important. obviously, for technician base is ten thousand then it is going to be a little more difficult. But, I think putting forth the expectation and figuring out what is stopping you from getting there, I think is a good first step. If you don't have a full, video collaborative real time tools that we're starting to see more and more service organizations have, it's still just a phone call or still just an email, it's still just a way to communicate, to get a better understanding.


"This also allows companies to work with their engineers to put them on a schedule that actually opens up more productivity for the organization"
- Aly Pinder Jr, IDC


This is good practical advice that many field service organizations will adhere to. However, Pinder is also a strong advocate of ensuring that the engineer understands that they are valued in their role as more than just a pair of hands as well. This means understanding how the current situation is impacting them beyond just their ability to do the job at hand.

As Pinder added "… and then opening up a channel that says every other day, 'I want you guys to let me know how are your home lives being impacted? Is there something where your work schedule may not be what it's always been can we readjust from a scheduling perspective what hours you're able to work based off of your own concerns.' Here in the US, it could be that they're struggling for daycare or, other support systems for their family. Maybe their working hours should be XYZ as opposed to what the regular nine to five?

"This also allows companies to work with their engineers to put them on a schedule that actually opens up more productivity for the organization because they can move things around from a scheduling perspective that also allows us to meet our customer's requirements to not have so many people on site at any given time."

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