To put it mildly, the business world has changed quickly over the last month. March began under normal operations, with only hints of a concern over an unknown virus in the U.S., and ended with shelter-in-place orders, a tumbling stock market and an unknown future about how long the coronavirus situation would last. Time has seemingly slowed down for everyone, yet the clients Hanson serves in the power market provide services that are certainly essential. It’s not surprising that uninterrupted service from utility companies and energy producers are necessary during a time like this. Maintaining the energy supply chain is imperative in times of crisis, and Hanson is ready with the technology necessary to keep our clients’ projects moving forward. We are proud of the important work we are doing with our clients to literally keep the lights on.
Hanson’s power market staff is accustomed to remote operations. With many of the projects involving construction work, remote access and communication protocols for our professionals in the field were already in place. In fact, one employee was already working from home full time, coordinating drilling crews and construction observation staff from over 2,000 miles and two time zones away. Other staff already had laptops with remote access to Hanson’s servers, and Hanson moved to a cloud-based file and storage service over five years ago, allowing all offices across the country to collaborate and work within the same system. While our employees work from home, they frequently communicate with their managers and can maintain their work efforts just as well as in the office.
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, Hanson has not missed a step in responding to clients’ needs. Rather than just sending an email to our clients letting them know of our capabilities, we reached out with personal phone calls to make sure our clients were OK, check in on their operations and let them know we are committed to working with them through these conditions. Coordination calls and web conferences have replaced in-person meetings with colleagues and clients; field staff is still on-site, providing eyes and ears for our clients during construction activities while abiding by Centers for Disease Control protocols; Hanson and client communication remains strong through tools including Skype, Microsoft Teams and WebEx, along with traditional email and phone calls. Further, the geographic footprint of our offices and workforce benefit many of our clients, because we can put boots on the ground without extensive travel by air or vehicle. Even with the shelter-in-place orders for most of the country, Hanson’s staff is able to work from home, the office and the field — whatever it takes to meet our clients’ needs.
A unique aspect of the Hanson’s work-from-home capability lies within the continued use of computer-aided design (CAD) software and computation-intensive computer modeling packages. As a design engineering firm, many of the projects we support require the use of this technology to complete construction documents or summary reports. For these circumstances, Hanson’s technical CAD and modeling staff typically do not work remotely because of the computer power required, but Hanson’s information technology group did an amazing job obtaining the hardware necessary to continue this work remotely, maintaining all capabilities, allowing for the continued support of essential client projects.
This is a unique time in world history, and the changes to work protocols may have lasting impacts on workforce mobility and may increase flexibility in work schedules. Hanson’s employee base is ready and willing to continue the work necessary to keep our clients’ essential projects moving forward now and in the future, whatever it may look like.