Source: Clear Safety
Clear Safety has recently expanded from mainly providing health and safety consultancy in the education sector to supporting housing providers with key compliance stream such as asbestos, fire and gas safety, legionella management, electrical safety, maintenance of lifts and door entry systems.
Clear Safety’s IT systems had already undergone a recent upgrade to accommodate the new business needs. This included migrating to Office 365, introducing a VoIP phone system accessible from users’ desktops via a mobile app and using a number of on-site tools such as iAuditor and Google Forms so that engineers could capture data while on the go; the main goal was to enable staff to be able to work from anywhere. The result is that any member of staff can access anything that they need to get the job done, on any device, with data is stored securely in the cloud.
Consequently, when faced with the lockdown, Clear Safety was already in a better position than many and could continue more or less as normal, without undue disruption. Despite this, it was quickly recognised that what we had taken for granted was how integral the social element of work is to the delivery of an effective service. Systems and data alone can only provide so much; the personal touch is still paramount.
In order to compensate for being unable to visit clients, the travel-time savings were viewed as an opportunity to improve how we communicate with our clients, colleagues and contractors.
The first step was to migrate away from email as much as possible because mailboxes were becoming harder to track. For example, there can be multiple threads about the same piece of work and sometimes all the stakeholders are copied into messages that are relevant to them, and sometimes not.
As an alternative, communication on projects is initiated within Airtable, a cloud-based application that can be used to manage almost any stream of work. It’s somewhere between a database and a spreadsheet, with added bells and whistles. One of its most powerful functions is its ability to message other collaborators from inside a record, so that all communications about a task can be tracked and seen by all, while still being able to direct the comment towards the relevant person. Our clients quickly saw the benefit of working this way, with Airtable now our primary mechanism to manage projects and workstreams.
The second focus was to make information as easy to access as possible for clients and contractors. To help streamline and simplify the process, Google Sites were created to present documentation and links in one user-friendly web page. Google Sites also allow Airtable views to be embedded into the page, reducing the need to swap between systems and different tables. When combined with Zapier, multiple manual processes can be automated and then Data Studio can be used to present analytics as a dashboard. The result is a ‘one-stop shop’ that lets everyone work in the same space, with simple systems that remove mundane, repetitive tasks, plus key information and performance can be viewed in real time.
What has become apparent during the lockdown is the importance of staff knowing the capabilities of the systems available to them and how they are expected to use them. It’s great having systems and processes that improve ways of working, but if staff are not fully conversant with them, they will quickly return to the long-winded manual processes that they are familiar with. This is especially true when staff aren’t all in the same place and can’t simply ask for a spot of help across the desk.
It is Clear Safety’s view that any changes and improvements that can be made now, while everyone is working in unusual and uncertain times, will bring benefits when we finally emerge from lockdown and return to more familiar ways of working.