What technology tools do your crew leaders need to work efficiently?
When we talk about adding technology to a green industry company, we often focus on tools for management, HR or sales. However, there are also a lot of tools available to help crew members in their daily work environments as well.
At this point in time, a cell phone is as much of a requirement of any green industry job as a good pair of boots. Your company should either provide mobile devices to employees that need to communicate internally and record work progress during the day, or you should set up a reimbursement program so that employees can use their own devices for work purposes. The type of device that you hand out will vary depending on the responsibilities of a position. If a crew leader needs to log their time and materials only, then a cell phone will probably be sufficient. If they need to look at detailed plans, wiring schematics or other giant images, you may want to provide them with a tablet so they can properly see the details. If your crew leader is required to email, work with spreadsheets or do other typical office activities, you should consider providing them with a laptop. These devices are also crucial for internal communication when there are questions about a project. A crew member can use video chat to visually show an account manager what they are seeing and ask questions without having to drive all the way out to the site. Crew members should also be using the provided devices to snap before and after photos of the projects to help the client understand progress on-site without having to visit the location physically.
If your teams are still recording their time on paper, you should focus on changing that immediately. There are lots of platforms available that will allow your team members to record their time digitally. Some of these are built into payroll or production systems and some are standalone applications. You want to use something that integrates with your payroll system so that their digital time inputs can be automatically uploaded to that department. If a background connection is possible, you want to select a platform where you can easily export the time and upload it to your payroll system. The ultimate goal would be to have a time-capture system that was tied to your production system so that you can properly apply job costs to each project. No matter what you do, moving to a digital time entry system will save your crews time while making their lives easier.
There are lots of free apps available from the Apple/Google Play store that can aid your crews daily. Some of the ones we use at Level Green include: OSHA’s Heat Safety Tool (which helps crews remember to drink lots of water and lets them know if dangerous conditions exist), PictureThis (a plant ID tool), Waze (a routing guide), as well as links to all of the internal tools we have created. We utilize a mobile device manager that allows us to push out apps to all of our company-provided devices so that we can ensure everybody has the right resources to assist them throughout their day.
A dashboard camera in a vehicle is still a new technology for our industry and it is taking some time for the crews to adjust. When we first deployed the cameras into our vehicles there was a lot of concern about being watched by Big Brother. However, after spending some time with the units, our teams are responding very well to the technology. The cameras we use are from Lytx and utilize artificial intelligence to help coach our drivers into better habits by sending audible alerts/reminders when an infraction is seen. And it’s working. We have seen a significant drop in alerts which we can then assume is leading to safer drivers. With safer drivers, you will save money from accidents and have less downtime for repairs on vehicles.
There is a lot of great technology available for your teams to use, but you can’t just show it to them once and expect them to use it as intended. You have to take the time to constantly remind them of what they need to do and why it will make their lives easier in the future. Most of the time when technology fails to be implemented in a company it isn’t because the tech is bad or doesn’t work. It’s because nobody was held accountable for the change.