Withstand the harsh conditions vs. remote work
For those who develop technology solutions for oil and gas, visiting an oilfield, seeing and feeling the real problems on site is part of the business. No pain no gain, you have to be there. Feel the extreme cold or heat, the wind, the dust, or the long hours in a truck to find out the conditions in which our product or solution is in. Empathize with what the client lives day to day, understand their points of view by living them. The operators, the maintenance crews, the warehouses, the project teams, the drilling towers, the well intervention teams, are all there and, in most cases, in harsh conditions. How can we connect while having to work from the remote?
During the last few months, in most cases, we were not able to see our customers, partners, suppliers, our boss or frequent coworkers face to face. Nor were our customers able to visit us for training or tests on site. We lost probably the best part, the warmth of the face-to-face encounter. Doing business has become more difficult and providing customized solutions is more complex, or requires more sophistication.
How do we support from remote?
However, we still were able to do a lot, not without effort. It was demonstrated that we can provide remote support in almost everything needed:
- conducting factory acceptance tests (FAT) with telepresence of customers
- all kinds of training
- update seminars
- public webinars
- presentations of new products
- remote implementation of proof of concept (PoC)
- live demonstrations of technology
- delivery of cabinets, instruments, systems.
Even on-site start-up with strict protocols and distancing and remote equipment support. We mastered these challenges.
Gaining new skills
We learned new skills and became more sophisticated in some of the methods over the months. For example, we became experts in lighting, backgrounds, sound, and live presentations. Where to place the camera for best visual contact while viewing notes? In-ear headphones, supra-aural headphones, or speakers? Tie or built-in microphones? A good background ambiance or a virtual background? Even in many cases, we realized that some sessions should not be live, that they could be prerecorded and available to answer questions. We learned to find the right space and coexist simultaneously between these activities and our children’s school activities. We learned to connect on time, with precision in seconds, and to respect the time of the meeting. Because in the virtual space, there is no travel time, another meeting starts immediately.
Achieving the best virtual meeting format, whether with a client or with a coworker, highly improves the chances of having a better outcome. Probably the virtual space has given us a higher frequency of meetings as well, exposing us more, exposing our personal brand in another way.
Being better prepared for remote video calls
For example, one of the things that I was able to incorporate in this period, is having the notes or key points that I want to transmit written down and even being able to read them textually. Many times, prepared with different variations, according to how the meeting is going, to give it spontaneity. The power of a prepared talk not only from the content but also its form and presentation is huge. Not only in the native language but also especially when we speak in a second or third language. Having part of our dialogue pre-prepared and being able to read it is an excellent new possibility. It may seem cold and premediated, and it is but the result is optimal. It does not add a greater distance than what video calls already provide, but quite the opposite, it contributes to a better outcome of the meeting.
We learned to manage a double monitor, the platform where we present and where we see cameras, notes, and all the support content. Maybe those of us who had the need to communicate with remote offices in other countries or continents already had this exercise. However, this has led us to immerse ourselves to a level that for me was unthinkable, as in many other aspects the COVID-19 pandemic surprised us and we had a huge ability to adapt.
Maybe when we feel the heat of the road again, the tiredness of the distance of the trip, the face-to-face encounter, and the taste of a shared dinner, we will miss a little these new mechanisms that we have incorporated. Although like riding a bike, it is something that you do not forget.
What have you learned from remote work? Feel free to share and discuss your experiences with me in the comments!
When will we reach technological singularity in the process industry?