Adopting Remote Work Policies in the Energy Sector
Remote work is a concept that has spread like wildfire. Companies have been required to transition from a physical workforce to a largely remote one since the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers have introduced and adopted policies that allow a large portion, if not all, of their employees to work remotely while being able to maintain productivity and cut costs.
An Owl Labs report found that 59% of workers will opt for an employer who offers remote work compared to one that doesn't. This enforces how important it is for energy companies to adopt functional remote work practices.
The 2022 Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) report takes a deep dive into the post-pandemic realignment that workforces are subjected to amidst the energy transition. Download the report to get the latest insights on global employment trends within the energy industry.
Re-invent the energy sector for remote workforce
The energy sector has largely remained as a physical industry but is rapidly facing a transformation. A sector that has relied on on-site personnel for decades is now embracing a remote workforce. Doing so requires energy companies to understand the needs of their workforce.
81% of workers seek remote work for a healthier work-life balance. The flexibility to work remotely provides workers with the option to relocate for various reasons. The GETI 2022 report shows that the leading reasons for energy employees’ willingness to relocate include career progression, cost of living and lifestyle. Energy sectors need to take these values into account and implement long-term remote workforce policies that align the goals of both the employee and employer.
Understandably, the energy industry is a hands-on one. New policies should account for the needs of both on-site skilled employees as well as remote ones. Inventing and adopting this balance will create a strong working model for energy companies to carry into the future.
64% of recruiters say that having a remote work policy helps them attract high-quality talent and a further 74% of workers are less likely to leave a company that offer remote work opportunities. Therefore, implementing flexible and remote work models will not only help energy companies retain their existing employees, it will also let them attract a healthy pool of new talent.
Establish Clear Guidelines For Remote Work
A remote workforce policy needs to be well defined for all employees. Developing a neatly structured workflow and role definitions determines the effectiveness of the policy and by association, the company. Understanding of the workflow allows employees to communicate easier irrespective of location. Incorporate daily meetings within teams to discuss key points of the project. This includes:
Delegation of Responsibilities
Be clear about decision making channels for smoother operations. High quality interactions should be the goal with regular meetings as they have a higher yield. It pertains to the energy industry where workers need to perform tasks accurately in a short time frame.
Practicing strong leadership regardless of location is healthy for a team's productivity. Predetermined responsibilities are to be delegated from the start of a project and to be tracked by the leader with room for development. This allows for a more transparent culture. It creates a trusting environment for the team to work in and increases willingness to communicate.
Support Employees with Effective Communication & Healthy Culture
87% of employees expect their employer to support a healthy work-life balance. Promoting a safe, inclusive and caring culture within the organization should be made a priority in any energy company. It is not easy for a person to undergo a transition from physical to remote work and they require the company to be able to understand this.
Prepare behavioral tips and guidelines that employees can refer to as new policies are rolled out. Ensure that employees are made aware that these resources exist and know where to find them.
Leaders in an organization must adopt a personal approach to communicating with their employees to help them feel heard, understood and appreciated. 88% of job seekers say that a healthy culture at work is vital for their success. The current millennial talent pool prioritizes culture fit above other requirements.
Developing a strong bond with employees allows for more engagement. It significantly reduces an employee’s mental load when they are able to communicate stressors with their colleagues and team leads. Fostering a pool of energetic and mentally healthy employees benefits the company with increase in productivity and performance.
A number of ways a company can help employees maintain work-life balance is by restricting employee hours, creating boundaries with clients, encouraging down time conversations and allowing flexible overtime. These policies empower the employees to use their time wisely to maximize output by empowering them to determine their own schedules.
Northern Gas and Power (NGP) for example creates a welcoming culture within the organization by having a regular frequency of social events in which all levels of staff participate. They also allow employees to take the whole month of December off as a reward for achieving targets. NGP offers constant support and training in an atmosphere that promotes learning.
Companies like Smartsheet also promote work-life balance through mental health days, free counseling sessions with professionals and wellness webinars. While these practices may be uncommon for older energy companies, it greatly aids the transition to remote workforce and is in line with the needs of modern employees.
Invest in digital tools and cybersecurity training for your remote employees
The transition to the remote workforce should be augmented by using the appropriate digital tools. Tools such as Basecamp and Microsoft teams are designed to support an organization with productivity management, secure communication, resource centers and more. Google Drive and Dropbox are efficient tools for cloud storage that are easy to navigate and use on a daily basis. BambooHR is a software that offers an extensive scope of HR and people management tools. Using such tools not only supports remote workforce, it improves efficiency within the organization as well.
With new tools comes the need to learn as well. Training is compulsory and should be continuously updated as company policies evolve. Employees who receive regular training and upskilling of tools are more likely to remain engaged and stay with the company. At present, only 29% of employees are satisfied with their existing opportunities in their respective organizations while 86% of Millennials are motivated to stay if training and development is provided.
Invest in job specific tools. The energy industry still relies on physical sites but there are ways to perform the tasks remotely. Site assessments and monitoring can be replaced by drones and high-tech camera equipment. Employees only require training to use these equipment remotely and can continue performing their roles from anywhere. This not only reduces cost but also greatly increases employee safety.
Challenges to expect during a remote workforce transition
Remote workforce transition is no small feat. It is smart for an organization planning to make the transition to educate themselves with the challenges they are likely to face.
While the best practices mentioned above will assist the transition, an employer needs to be ready to manage employees expectations and be flexible in confronting the different challenges that will arise in the face of such change.
Technology and cost can become an issue in places where full digital suites exceed company budgets. Certain locations may not be ideal for tech equipment supply and can deter employee productivity. Communication barriers may develop along with loss of information, leading to severe delays in projects.
Employees can also find it difficult to unplug from their working schedules and struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Challenges are inevitable and energy leaders who take the time to listen to their employees and work on continuously perfecting their remote workforce policies will reap its benefits.
Explore Remote Workforce Strategies with Airswift
At Airswift, we ensure that you are able to provide a healthy remote strategy for your employees. Our global team has extensive expertise on employee trends and local culture to be able to support companies of all sizes as they navigate through a remote workforce transition.