Around the world, companies of all kinds are scrambling to cope with the increasingly disastrous coronavirus pandemic. For organizations in essential industries like the transport sector, business continues as usual, but with office staff working remotely. When it comes to employees transitioning from the office to working from home seamlessly, tech companies seem to be leading the way, but many “low-tech” businesses are only now trying to ramp up these capabilities.
No one at Argus could have predicted the current pandemic, but our management does subscribe to a particular ethos: Shop for an umbrella when it’s sunny. Some of our decisions made in previous years, and in early 2020 have given us the ability to weather the COVID-19 storm so far. On Friday the 13th of March, we announced our plan to work fully remotely, and on Monday the 16th, our remote operations were in full swing. Some of what we did to prepare:
1. Establish strong tech infrastructure
Our progressive tech capabilities have made the switch to working from home fairly straight forward. Early this year, we decided to store all of our data at a top-rated and highly-secure data center in the United States. We also updated our desktop software and voice over IP systems. These updates to our tech infrastructure have enabled our dispatchers and other support staff to manage shipments and communicate with customers from the safety of their homes without a single hitch.
2. IT support staff
We’re a company that is still in a growth phase, but having tech that performs consistently and that can be upgraded frequently is critically important to us. For this reason, we invested in a dedicated IT support team that could work with us on a regular basis. For over a year now, our IT support has been available on short notice to help us with any issue that arises – this pandemic being no exception.
3. Red light, green light
At the beginning of March 2020, we realized that social distancing was going to be critical in the fight against infection. Our drivers often have no choice but to enter headquarters after their deliveries, so we developed a system to keep the number of bodies in the office to a minimum. We installed one red light and one green light at the entrance. Now, drivers know when they should wait before entering the building, and when the coast is clear. It was simple to set up and has been effective in creating distance between workers.
4. Reduce paper where possible
The transport industry is not totally paperless. Drivers still handle waybills from the dispatcher terminal and other transactions – a system we believe should be fully digitized. Paperwork can lead to human error and as we now know, can even spread a virus that is active on its surface. We’ve been trying to digitize all of our operations including a recent switch to digital logbooks – allowing drivers to record their information into software instead of pieces of paper.
5. New trucks
Repairing an old truck can slow down business even during the best of times. During a pandemic, getting a mechanic to fix a truck is a real challenge. Our commitment to keeping our trucks and equipment maintained has helped us avoid this unfortunate problem.
Basic best practices
Safety comes first at Argus. From complying to all local laws and regulations to updating our drivers about new safety measures, we’re dedicated to keeping our staff, customers, and the public safe under any circumstance. Like just about everyone in the industry, we’ve urged our essential employees (drivers and others who must enter the office) to practice recommended behaviours like social distancing, hand washing, carrying hand sanitizer, and more.
If it weren’t for the drivers and transport personnel who are bravely interacting with the public every day, we wouldn’t be able to cope with this ongoing outbreak. Our customers can rest assured that we will continue to haul critical supplies like food and consumer goods for as long as we possibly can.
As businesses in all industries acclimatize, we’d like to share a few helpful resources that have been effective guiding and communicating with our staff:
Canadian Urban Transit Association: Guidance for the Public Transit Industry
Government of Canada: Resources for Canadian businesses
World Health Organization: Getting your workplace ready for Covid:19