Six ways the COVID-19 pandemic changed the field service industry
The COVID-19 pandemic has been with us for more than a year now. It significantly changed the way we work, and it seems like many of these changes are here to stay. Many companies moved their entire workforce to home office. Some of them have since started getting used to a hybrid work model.
However, the nature of work in some industries, such as field service, doesn´t allow employees to work from home. The fieldworker´s „office“ is outside in the field, but this doesn´t mean that social distancing and preventive rules don´t apply. On the contrary, this is where it gets interesting. Service technicians often meet a lot of people at work, and in some cases, they have to work with several colleagues at once to repair equipment. Even in situations like these, companies need to ensure that their workers maintain social distancing and safety standards without disrupting their operations.
1. Emphasis on safety
Since the pandemic started, companies across various industries are taking measures to protect their employees´ health. In addition to measuring temperature, providing hand sanitizers, disposable masks and gloves, they are also introducing new tools that minimize face-to-face contact. These tools allow for remote work and communication, as well as contactless service delivery.
In field service, this means for example using work scheduling software instead of morning meetings or client portals to communicate with customers. Many customers have got used to this way of communication as they don´t need to worry about health. And a huge benefit for both the technicians and customers is that they can report issues immediately when they arise. There is no need to wait for the technician´s working hours – he will read the message as soon as he´s available.
2. Remote work is on the rise
Believe it or not, even field workers can work remotely. Well, to some extent. When contact with other people isn´t safe, digital technologies are here to help. Using smart metering instead of going door to door and meeting various people is a prime example.
Another good example is remote troubleshooting and collaboration. Instead of meeting up with more experienced co-workers or experts, field workers can use augmented reality (AR) and video calls to get assistance without endangering anyone´s health.
3. Knowledge from all around the world
As you can see, the pandemic transformed knowledge sharing as we knew it. Experts cannot meet with fieldworkers to advise (or onboard) them as they work from home or their offices. Their work shifted to video chats and prerecorded videos with step-by-step guides.
However, the bright side is that these experts don´t need to be in your service area when location is no longer a factor. You can find and use the best people from anywhere around the world. To save time and become more efficient, companies are creating knowledge libraries. They streamline employee access to information, work instructions and expert knowledge, and help keep the knowledge in the company even when experts retire.
4. Collecting employee information
To an extent, employees are risking their health every day in the field. That is why it is more important than ever for companies to have access to information about their whereabouts. Managers need to know where their employees are and whether they visited any areas with high health risks. Luckily, there are reliable service management solutions that help track employees in real-time and collect relevant location data for internal purposes. This can also help with contact tracing if the fieldworkers meet with someone with a positive diagnosis.
5. Everything on one device
Due to the pandemic, all shared devices need to be disinfected regularly. And why even use scanners and other handhelds when everything a field worker might need can be done with an app on a mobile device? Mobiles and wearables can act as communication devices and cameras, scanners, measuring devices, instruction manuals, notepads and much more.
6. Smart resource planning
Better resource planning and preventive maintenance can reduce the number of technicians on-site and interactions with clients and other people. Scheduling and route optimization tools help assign the right work orders to the right technicians, save time, and react to changes flexibly. This way, field service companies can minimize the impact of the pandemic on their productivity.
Resco Field Service 2.0 will help you with all of these
If you want to incorporate these trends into your processes (or you´re currently working on it), Resco Field Service 2.0 is the solution for you. Its remote collaboration, scheduling, location tracking, and route planning tools will help you keep employees safe without disrupting your company´s workflow.