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Scheduling optimization: being productive in COVID-19 times

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a huge impact on every type of business. That, of course, also includes the field service industry. As part of the measures adopted to prevent the spread of the disease, many field service companies have encouraged their staff to work remotely. But how can you maintain an efficient scheduling optimization when half (or most!) of your team is working from home, and cannot report to headquarters?

Remote work deeply affects the kind of work that most field service companies do. Many of the dispatchers, assistants, accountants and other typically office-based personnel in field service are probably OK with working from home. Things change, however, when it comes to field technicians. Remote work is not a possibility for them. But even in that case, the decrease in customer calls means there’s simply not enough work for them to do.

Scheduling optimization in these cases is hard. So it’s time to get creative and put those spare hours to work! Grab all the projects and ideas you’re always leaving for another day, and get started on them. Don’t have any? Here’s a few suggestions for you.

Scheduling optimization: being productive in COVID-19 times

 

Upgrade your hardware

After having forced many companies to switch to remote work, the pandemic has also helped them realize their hardware was a bit, say, outdated. Computers too slow to manage remote connections, mobile phones that can’t handle videocalls, total absence of laptops to take home… And if you don’t have the right tools, scheduling optimization is not possible.

Take the opportunity to analyze your current hardware equipment, and make the necessary changes accordingly. Not only will you make remote work easier these days, but you’ll also be better prepared for other situations that make remote working necessary. Or even make it a permanent option for administrative staff.

 

Promote your business

The field service market is slowing down due to the pandemic. This means you probably need to work a bit harder in order to promote your business and attract more customers. Even if you don’t have a marketing professional in your team, they can still undertake some actions while working from home. A perfect way to contribute to scheduling optimization, even if they’re not in the office!  Some examples:

  • Refresh your website! Revise all texts and make sure everything is up to date
  • Write articles for your company blog. Hey, or create one, if you don’t have any yet!
  • Update your social media profiles and also schedule posts for the next weeks.
  • Create short videos with maintenance tips and common household fixes.
  • Invest on online campaigns with Facebook Ads, Google Adwords and other platforms.

 

Invest in professional training

Do you remember the last time you attended a webinar, or enrolled in an online course? The usual excuse back then was the lack of time… but things have changed a little now. While having less customers to assist is no one’s cup of tea, at least it leaves you with plenty of time to invest in your training.

So play your part in scheduling optimization from home, and encourage your staff to improve their current skills or even learn new ones. The pandemic has had many negative effects, but it has also contributed to a huge increase in opportunities for online training.

You have industry-specific webinars, web-based courses, TED talks, online events… and you can even take the time to improve your knowledge of devices, software applications and other tools you use in your daily job.

 

Improve your organization

Finally, one of the best ways to make the most of your time away from the office is working on the company’s organization itself. We all know field service can get pretty stressful sometimes, so a bit of scheduling optimization is essential. And now, with more free time in your hands, is just the right moment.

For instance, if you still have documents pending digitalization, grab those and consider archiving them in a local storage unit, or in cloud-based service such as Google Drive or OneDrive.

Another idea: revise all pending jobs in your field service management software and distribute them accordingly, rescheduling them for later on. Also, use the inventory module to make sure you’re still good with parts, and order more in those cases you’re too low. Take the time also to make some cleaning-up in the customer database.

Even if most of your employees are now home-bound, they can still be productive and therefore contribute to scheduling optimization. It’ll help keep your company afloat during these days and will also make them feel useful and happy.

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