Managing Remote Employees for Essential Businesses in a Crazy World

It’s a crazy world.

Driving down the empty rush-hour roads in Kansas City feels a little creepy; many are home unemployed. Fortunately, field service companies are considered essential businesses. And that we are. Plumbers, electricians, and HVAC technicians are now enjoying the recognition that’s been overlooked for too long.

Ron Burgundy "I'm not saying I'm a big deal but the government classifies me as 'essential'" essential business meme

However, there are still risks for your business. If a technician or customer service representative (CSR) comes down with an illness even resembling Coronavirus, chances are you’ll need to temporarily close – if that person has come into contact with other employees in the last 14 days. This is why many field service companies are now operating as remotely as possible, and they’re using modern solutions to help manage their remote workforce.

How Do We Manage Remote Employees During This Unprecedented Time?

As owners and managers, we have a new challenge: How do we efficiently allow CSR’s, dispatchers and supervisors to work from home? How can we manage remote employees? How do we advertise and track results responsibly? Getting answers to these questions is critical.

Communication and Accountability Are Keys to Effectively Managing Remote Workers

The first step is to enable multiple team members to remotely answer the phones as if they were in the office. Then, you need to be sure to track your marketing accurately. Our solution can work with existing phone systems so you don’t miss any calls or have to switch providers. We help can send your phone calls to multiple locations, track your marketing spend, provide analysis on marketing return and give you the ability to listen to recordings of phone calls to and from CSR’s and techs.

Dispatching Correctly is Non-Negotiable for an Essential Businesses Operating During a “Shelter In Place” Order

Communication becomes more complicated when trying to dispatch remotely. Dispatchers, customers, supervisors, technicians, warehouse managers, bookkeepers and accountants all need to have seamless and accurate access to the same information as they do when working from the same office. In Zip Solutions, you’ll be able to see the schedule, the notes, location of vehicles, and even the work orders and payments all in real-time from any location. Techs can even capture signatures and provide quotes either in person or remotely. Making your entire organization visible from any location is simple with Zip Solutions.

Manage Remote Teams with Real-Time Operational Review and Bookkeeping

With new social distancing rules in place, it can be problematic and inefficient to send managers to assist on service calls; not to mention it can make customers uncomfortable. Zip Solutions enables supervisors to review and edit work orders and view project photos in real-time while off-site to help technicians present better options or solve technical issues. Bookkeepers can also instantly review and merge invoices with just a click from any location. Updating your systems could simplify your office in a huge way.

Efficiency Is Critically Important to Essential Businesses Today

I worry for companies that don’t modernize during this COVID-19 pandemic. This is going to accelerate the evolution of the field service industry permanently, and it will force efficiencies into current business models that continue well after this becomes history.

As an essential business, you may feel like you’ve been thrown into a river of uncertainty. Thousands of businesses are closing and even more employees have been ordered to stay home to avoid spreading the disease, but your business needs to stay open to help maintain society. Though consistent work is good, this presents its own obstacles. It reminds me of kayaking in some ways.

Russ Duker kayaking in rapids as a metaphor of essential businesses' challenge of managing remote employees
Russ Kayaking on the Arkansas River at Brown’s Canyon, Colorado

When you enter a large whitewater rapid, there is no plan B to distract you; you are committed. If you end up backward, you have to adapt. Even if you’re pushed against a boulder, you lean into it to let the current run around you. I see running an essential business during this time in the same way.

Just keep pushing forward; lean into problems and adapt to the obstacles that are in the way of you succeeding during this hard time. Find new ways to see good outcomes for your business and customers. Change your processes to match the times, and your employees and customers will respond in a positive way.

I would love to help. If you would like to discuss how we can get you set up on modern systems at a fair price, schedule a time for us to connect, and we can demonstrate how to get through today’s crazy world.

Don’t let fear immobilize you. Instead, be mobilized like so many others have already done. Don’t be like the 8-Track, phonograph, cassette, and CD. Instead, lean into the problem and change. Keep paddling.

Russ Duker
Senior VP of Zip Solutions
(636) 222-2222