Prepare for more trucking industry work at home

Mike McCarron

There is no sugarcoating the reality that the world is in the throes of a deep recession. Not a trucker on the planet has experienced anything remotely close to this. The initial freight surge carriers enjoyed in March has vanished like my desire to watch U.S. news channels.

Backhaul is a distant memory. I feel especially bad for the folks in Alberta dealing with the devastating trifecta of Covid-19, the oil markets, and spring flooding.

As carriers face an uncertain future and an unknown playbook, one thing that’s here to stay is some form of working remotely.

home office Covid-19
(Illustration: iStock)

The Bank of Montreal anticipates that 80% of its staff—36,000 employees—will combine working from home and office in the future. Like many carriers I spoke with, BMO made a “sweeping reappraisal of workforce policies” after company execs figured out that you don’t have to be in the office to “make something happen.”

Count me in as one of the naysayers who changed his tune about working remotely. Here’s what I learned while working from home.

Super duper flexible

Working remotely today is different even for the 6% who already ply their trade from the kitchen table. With everything shuttered, it takes a while to be productive while dealing with the road hockey game in the living room.

As the leader of your business, the key is to trust your employees, understand their challenges, and be flexible so they can get their work done. Does it really matter if billing gets done at 9 a.m. or 11 p.m.?

Double desks

Working remotely has its perks. I’ve been doing it since early March and am enjoying no daily commutes and more family time while doing my part to slow the spread.

But it can be a lonely experience that I am not wired for.

The office is a hub of social activity—a place to kibitz and have fun with co-workers. In trucking it’s common to spend more time at work than at home. Anticipating a return, many carriers are thinking like BMO: a desk at the office and a desk on the condo balcony to meld the best of both models.

Sore behinds

A recent Maru/Blue poll of our shaggy-haired, pajama-clad remote workforce found that only 18% said they do not enjoy working remotely.

For the 82% that are “fine” with it, the biggest complaint is not having the right tools. Atop their wish list is more comfortable seating (52%), followed by a better workspace (48%), an additional screen (34%), and faster internet connection (23%).

Don’t send your employees home assuming they have the space and tools to do their jobs. Take the next step and make sure they have what they need.

Zooming along

Three months ago, I thought Zoom was a 1982 soul song by the Fat Larry’s Band. Now the web-based video conferencing tool is a critical component of our organization’s culture.

In the beginning we used it for weekly catch-up calls to keep morale high while making sure staff was safe and getting the basic necessities. Once it became clear that face-to-face meetings are thing of the past, we tasked a member of our team to become a Zoom expert. I am blown away with its features that allow us to collaborate on projects, record strategy sessions, and speak with customers.

Zoom isn’t the only tool on the market but it sure works for us.

Video conferencing will also give your staff a chance to stay social. All your employees (especially ones who live alone) will struggle with the loss of community and camaraderie with their work peers.

Once a week, grab a bottle of wine, put on some Fat Larry tunes, and have a company video conferencing party.

We could all use a little more fun these days.

Stay safe, my friends!

Mike McCarron

Mike McCarron is the president of Left Lane Associates, a firm that creates total enterprise value for supply chain companies and their shareholders. He can be reached at mike@leftlaneassociates.ca, 416-551-6651, or @AceMcC on Twitter.

Have your say

We won't publish or share your data

*

  • No kidding Mike , you hit the nail on the head.
    It’s also been an pretty big adjustment for us guys behind the wheel, knowing when not to call dispatch cause there on a conference call with management ,to overview loads needed to be moved for the day has now moved to a more texting approach which is some what overrated, having that voice on thee other end of the line has meant alot to keeping drivers engaged in this pandemic as well.