Although storm season is upon us, the world has been facing a different type of crisis: The COVID-19 Pandemic. As many businesses shift to a work from home model or temporarily close their doors, utilities and other critical infrastructure companies have continued to work long hours and make sacrifices to keep us safe.
But while functioning under a pandemic, you may find yourself facing a new set of challenges: How do we keep OUR employees safe? By proactively rolling out a COVID-19 Response Plan, Grant County Public Utility quickly changed protocols to better protect their crews and customers.
According to an article published with T&D World, the utility’s response was rapid and extreme:
“In a pandemic, the direct risk isn’t to the infrastructure as it is in a wildfire or natural disaster. What’s at risk is the availability of the people to get the work done and the ability to keep up under changed processes. Having been hit early with a COVID-19 threat, we’re improvising and learning new protocols, and maybe what we’re learning could help other utilities.”
After recently implementing ARCOS Mobile Workbench, Grant County PUD was able to easily facilitate remote work. With Mobile Workbench, supervisors, customer service, and dispatchers are able to remotely create tickets and distribute them to crews via a mobile device, without ever having to see each other in person. Crews can then update the ticket and mark it complete with the option to add additional notes. This new approach replaced an old fax-based system, and allowed crews in the field and employees at home to communicate within social distancing guidelines.
Besides optimizing new technology, Grant County PUD made other changes to help their operations run smoothly and safely during the pandemic:
- Allow non-essential workers to work remotely. Grant County permitted all office personnel to borrow any devices or office equipment that would help them work comfortably from home. They were also able to deliver office chairs, and offer a temporary reimbursement program so employees wouldn’t be burdened with extra costs during the transition.
- Bolster your internal communications. It’s important to have a streamlined process for communicating updates with your organization so everyone is in the loop. Consider a weekly email or living document that everyone can bookmark and access with the most up-to-date information.
- Socially distance and sanitize. Encourage your workforce to uphold the 6ft+ social distance, or work remotely. Ask that employees wear face-masks, and thoroughly sanitize all work stations and equipment regularly.
- Keep safety first. We know that utilities value safety above all. Social distancing, working from home, and proper sanitization are all considered basic safety protocols during this time.
- Finally, take a deep breath and be flexible. None of us are able to see what the future holds, or what will even happen a week from now. Be prepared to make changes that are best for your organization, employees, and customers.
To learn more about Grant County Public Utility District’s pandemic best practices, and how they rolled out their plan, check out their article with T&D World.
For some quick tips and creative ways to adapt your ARCOS solutions to help you better tackle challenges related to COVID-19 and beyond, visit our COVID-19 resource page.