Field services workers were true heroes of the Covid-19 pandemic. When customers couldn’t visit physical stores due to risk of virus exposure, fleet services and distribution workers kept the world turning, preventing mayhem by making essential and non-essential resources available to the masses. However, field service workers could never work from home. The pandemic shed light on the importance of field services managers to having a system in place to prevent contagion spread while continuing to operate their essential businesses.
Scientists are emphatic that coronavirus will not be the last global pandemic in our lifetime. The question is not if the next major outbreak will arise, but when and even at this writing the delta-variant is on the rise. For now, customers can return to stores and get back into the flow of their daily lives. But make no mistake… this deep breath after the long hold is an important opportunity for field service leaders to review their pandemic business performance to identify where to streamline operations –– so they’re prepared to operate efficiently for the long haul –– in any situation.
The Numbers Behind the Industry
The global field service management market size was valued at $3.12 billion in 2018, and is projected to reach $10.81 billion by 2026. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 16.9% from 2019 to 2026. With so much growth and revenue coming in, many are surprised to learn of the driver shortage that’s been afflicting the field services and distribution industries. According to NPR, the annual turnover rate at long-haul trucking companies has been 90% for decades. That means there was a major driver shortage well before the pandemic.
Everyone is more cautious about hygiene, safety, and contagion spread coming out of lockdown. Field service and distribution workers face more opportunities for virus exposure than other industries. So, when competing for talent, these companies can get a leg up on the competition by taking steps to protect the health and safety of their workers.
Stream SOP Updates in Real Time
In the field services and distribution industries, workplace safety often comes down to the quality of communication. During the pandemic, we bore firsthand witness to how quickly SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) can change. The ability to easily send updates to different business branches in real time goes beyond improving employee retention –– it can also impact the amount of time employees have to spend on the floor.
The distribution industry, in particular, faces setbacks from employees taking days away from work due to illness and injury. A 2019 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, had the highest number of DAFW (days away from work) cases with 64,160; closely followed by heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers with 47,990. Employee health is paramount to distribution center effectiveness. So, it’s essential for business owners to have the ability to update employees on health protocols, new technologies, and safety standards in real time.
When Task Management Becomes Critical
The task management process can quickly become one of an organization’s greatest strengths, or its biggest weaknesses. It can be time consuming to assign by word-of-mouth, SMS, manual checklist distributions or even by task tools not meant for an hourly workforce, and it invites miscommunication. As automation takes center stage, distribution and field services managers are increasing efficiency by eliminating the unnecessary tasks that can lead to a disconnect between different branches of a business. Automating task management presents an opportunity to improve communication, reduce costs, and align associates with business goals –– especially during a pandemic, when the proper completion of cleaning protocols can have life or death consequences.
Automation gives distribution managers the ability to present every single employee with a clear outline of the tasks that need to be completed at the beginning of their shift. Employees can view the task and all surrounding safety protocols on their smartphone when they clock in, and, when they’re done, upload a photo of their completed work for manager review. This gives managers a big picture view of their organization and more bandwidth to ensure that every branch of their company is staying on track. And reduced miscommunication leads to fewer errors, sick days, and injuries… and a safer, cleaner workplace.