If you send crews to out-of-town locations, what are the prime needs for making sure they’re safe and comfortable? How do you assure that they’ll stay with you?
More importantly for business, how do you monitor the work to assure that the job is completed correctly and on time and that the customer is happy?
Whether your job assignments are for only a day or two or last for several weeks matters little. Each trip away from home base or central office carries with it the need for advance planning, constant communication, and reliable oversight and reporting.
Keeping your construction crew satisfied
There are no guaranteed “right” ways to deal with any of these subjects and concerns. Construction company solutions will be very different from long-haul trucking procedures; utility companies and emergency response crews have a unique set of needs, and the employee manual of a non-profit relief organization will vary dramatically from that of a documentary media crew.
But there are commonalities as well. Here are 7 tips to help to formulate plans and procedures that work for your company:
1. Send an advance team when possible
If your schedule calls for a construction team to travel to another city for a two-month stint, it’s worth a two-day reconnaissance mission to scout out the area. Prepare a “How to Survive” packet that lists budget eateries, nearby movie theaters and malls, perhaps an amusement park or fishing lake, and other attractions your employees might find appealing.
2. Know the local requirements for the work you are doing
If there are limits to working hours, noise restrictions, union memberships, licenses, and permits, it pays to know about them in advance. Make certain the entire team knows the rules.
3. Define Parameters
Be specific when sending your construction team to a “foreign” location. Go over hours, expectations, transportation, trips home, authorized expenditures — anything that might become a stumbling block or cause friction among your employees.
4. Plan to make a surprise visit as the work progresses
Handled properly, this can be a way to cement the concept of teamwork rather than reinforcing the notion of “Big Brother” checking up. Take your crew out for a good dinner or plan an impromptu barbecue. Use your own judgment, but let your employees know that you value them as individuals!
5. Respond to concerns
No matter how trivial it may seem at the time, never let a complaint be voiced without resolving the issue in some way. Even if the resolution requires a change of personnel, that’s better than letting the problem grow to a point of crisis.
6. Set limits
Except in times of true crisis, like natural disasters or widespread emergency, set reasonable limits on away time. In cases where a job will span weeks or months, allow family visits or schedule home weekends regularly.
7. Finally, Look at Results
Your primary goal should always be smooth job progress, satisfactory completion and a healthy bottom line. If you don’t see it, perhaps you should rethink your business plan.
Before you accept that first out-of-town job, do some research, and take a trip yourself to experience both the pain points and the potential positives of job-related temporary relocation. Knowing what your employees experience when working away from home will help to “personalize” your company’s responses to their needs.
Maintain an “open door” for long-distance communication. If a problem can be solved through a 3 a.m. conference call or Sunday morning Skype time, so be it. There may be lost sleep and inconvenience on both ends, but that’s always better than a derailed job, the expense of unplanned airplane fare, or a complete reorganization.