We know that mobilising your workforce is a good way to drive efficiencies and capture key performance data in real time, all of which are good for your management team. But what is the effect on the workforce itself? How will your operatives react to leaving their paperwork behind and cutting down on their trips into the office?
Here at HydeMartlet, a housing association with operations in Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, our responsive repairs tradesmen were nervous. Many expressed concerns about having to use ‘fancy technology’ when they went live with handheld PDAs running Blackbay Housing Connect.
Before going mobile, the tradesmen had to visit the office each day to pick up job tickets and drop off their timesheets. This caused a delay which meant that they often did not arrive at their first job until well into the morning. Now that they’re mobile, they visit the office far less often, and can get straight to their first job. This translates into more jobs per day per man.
While that sounds like they are having to worker harder, it’s not necessarily true. Ray Groves, a plumber for HydeMartlet, said, “Going mobile has really taken the pressure off. I used to get my paper run sheet with all of the day’s jobs on it and worry whether I would be able to complete them. Now, as I only receive one job at a time on the handset, I can focus entirely on that. I know that the schedulers back at the office are managing all of the plumbers’ diaries, so that everything gets done, even when one of us is over-running.”
He also added, “The reduction in paperwork has made my life easier, as once I have processed the repair on the handset I can forget about it. Not only that, I can be on my first job first thing in the morning and, depending on where it is, I can even leave home later than I used to and still achieve that.”
It’s a win-win situation. Our workforce is happy with the new way of working and HydeMartlet is seeing its performance statistics improving, as trade staff are giving their full attention to getting repairs completed at the first visit and schedulers are keeping the workload fairly distributed.
If you’re thinking of getting your workforce mobile, help them see what it will do for them. It is important to remember that people will be anxious about having to work in a new way and you have to manage that change sympathetically. You will win your workforce over by showing them how they too will benefit.
The last word goes to Barry Hocombe, a HydeMartlet carpenter, who said, “I was sceptical about going mobile, but after a couple of days’ use, I was comfortable with using the handset. Now I don’t have to worry about losing job tickets or materials issue sheets as it’s all done automatically. It also means I don’t have to make my daily visit to the office. I can just pick up my handset and go.”
Valerie Adler is Martlet build implementation manager for HydeMartlet.