Use social distancing to your advantage
We had another topic planned for this month, but with the global COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve received numerous calls from companies seeking assistance with work-from-home options. So, we pushed pause on our 12-Step plan to address this more pressing issue. Given that our platform was designed with remote access in mind, we felt this an appropriate detour.
Even as we adapt to the difficult circumstances that we are all encountering during this time of unprecedented uncertainty, there are ways to mitigate the downturn or at least to take advantage of any slowdowns in normal work.
Remote work often lends itself more easily to office work, but we’ve made a few suggestions in the last section for shop personnel as well, particularly for supervisors or those with enough experience to help you improve operations when normal work conditions are restored.
The Remote Work Decision
Many companies offer remote work opportunities. Obviously, some jobs lend themselves to remote work while others certainly do not. We’ll focus on things that can be done from home, particularly things that will help improve processes once things return to normal and employees return to work. In addition to making the most out of the current situation, social distancing, and allowing employees to be home with children while schools are closed, there are several other benefits to structuring your business for remote access. Here are just a few:
- A remote work environment allows leaders to stay engaged while traveling.
- Remote work capability can allow employees to continue working when feeling under-the-weather without using sick days or PTO.
- Even a part-time remote work option, like one day a week, can be a tremendous incentive for some employees and increase their quality of life.
- Remote work options can sometimes allow you to hire talent you may not otherwise be able to attract.
- For companies that cover large regions, remote work can be a great way to maintain a presence away from the physical company location without the expense of additional offices. Area sales reps often work remotely under these circumstances.
But to offer remote work as an option you need to mentally prepare for it and create the proper infrastructure to facilitate it. That normally requires investment of some amount, mostly in IT and electronic systems.
Hopefully the COVID-19 crisis will be short-lived, but any move you make toward building a remote work culture now will not be wasted when considering these and other advantages of being flexible.
Productivity From Home
We know many of our customers are thinking about ways to keep their employees productive and receiving paychecks to support their families during this time. We also understand that employees are needing to work from home due to lack of childcare and other commitments.
Here are some areas to keep employees productive while away from the shop or office. We recommend doing these things on an ongoing basis, but we also realize that these are the things that often don’t make it high on the priority list. So, now may be a good a time to get started. If there is no process for staying on top of these areas, this is also a very good time to formulate and document company policies for improving your operations. So, that’s the first items in our list of things you can do now in a remote work environment.
Gather, review, and revise as necessary all company policies and procedures.
First off, congrats if you actually have written policies and procedures. Many companies don’t. If that’s your company, downtime is a great time to determine what written procedures you should have in place and get a start on drafting those documents.
Even companies that have written procedures often do not review those procedures on a regular basis and the information in those documents becomes obsolete, referencing people, systems, or contact information that is no longer valid.
2. Clean, Close, & Collate
In the fast pace of business and in companies where employees are wearing several hats, it’s common for transactions to get lost in the shuffle and remain open. Even if this information cannot be accessed remotely in your particular case, many systems allow you to export to a spreadsheet which can then be opened and worked on a home computer.
Looking for a simple way to make use of time that will pay dividends when employees return to normal working conditions, look no further. Done right, working through old transactions and analyzing the results will not only reduce clutter and help balance accounts, it will also allow you to organize and arrange the information in a way that will help you improve your business processes moving forward.
Clean – Run reports, create spreadsheets, find ways to organize your information in a meaningful way. Identify duplicated information, obsolete information, and open transactions. With the open transactions we’re particularly looking for items that should already be closed out but were forgotten or just fell through the cracks.
Close – Any open transactions that can be closed should be.
Collate – Organize and analyze the items you identified so you can identify trends. Are there people that require additional training? Are there processes that are not being followed or that need to be improved? Do you need to document a procedure and put it in place to improve workflow from this point on?
Here’s a partial list of items to begin sifting through:
- Purchase Orders
- Vendor Returned Material Authorization
- Open Jobs (no invoice)
- Sales Orders
- Customer Returned Material Authorization
- Open Invoices (no payment or record of payment)
- Open Quotes
Projects in Preparation for Return to Normal Work
This can also be a productive time for non-office workers by gainfully employing qualified persons in projects that will improve your business.
If you are the company owner or executive level manager, examine your company goals. Do you have a defined 5, 3, and 1-year plan broken down into actionable steps? Have you articulated these to supervisors, key personnel, and every employee at appropriate levels? Use online meetings to work through some of these things and get people thinking in the right direction.
Persons with technical experience can review shop processes and forms. Are there better ways to do business as usual? Can you make reports more appealing to customers and turn business as usual into a sales tool? What can you offer to set your company apart from the competition?
Examine and critique your sales process.
Investigate new business opportunities. Times are always changing. Are you adapting to changes? If you’re not already engaged in these areas, how might you expand your services to incorporate:
- Equipment management
- Equipment storage
- Predictive/Preventative Maintenance services
- Remote sensing
After identifying areas for improvement or possible expansion, dedicate time to research better methods and systems to accomplish your goals.
Take a look at your sales process.
Research better systems for accomplishing your goals.
This might also be a great time to explore some of the productivity enhancing features of the Spring Point software suite. Remote access has been one of our focus areas for over a decade; process improvement has been our primary goal from the very start.
A personal note from Spring Point
Our hearts and prayers go out to all the people that have been affected by this pandemic. We pray that our government and health officials make the best decisions for stifling this virus and getting our country back on track. We wish you and your loved ones health and safety.
During this time of great uncertainty, we want to reassure you that Spring Point continues to be open for business including support for our products and services – even if most of us are also working from home now.
If you would like additional information about getting your company configured for remote access, whether it’s for contingencies such as COVID-19 or routine field service work, contact Sales@SpringPT.com for assistance.