The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced drastic changes in the day-to-day operations of organizations globally. While companies in many industries had to suspend operations, other sectors thrived as they shifted to a fully remote work model. Many changes that started out as temporary adjustments to protect the health and safety of employees, have evolved into more permanent changes to the way we collaborate and interact in the workplace.
Current conditions provide opportunities for additional learning and innovation and have created the opportunity to break boundaries that, under normal circumstances, would take years to shift.
Gartner, How Utility CIOs Can Leverage Cost Optimization to Accelerate Post-COVID-19 Renewal, Lloyd Jones and Bryan Hayes, 16 June 2020
The past year has taught us that we can continue to be successful and deliver on our promises—even while working remotely. It has served as a reminder of our resilience and our ability to adapt and collectively solve problems in today’s rapidly changing world. This article will highlight some of the positive things we’ve learned as we’ve shifted the implementation of Copperleaf’s Decision Analytics Solutions from in-person to remote.
Building lasting relationships
From what we know about work productivity, it’s important that teammates form bonds and develop relationships in order to collaborate effectively. At Copperleaf®, we have purposefully developed an open culture that encourages team building in a fun and productive work environment. We’ve had to experiment with a variety of different approaches—including hosting virtual team lunches and workshops, and using online tools such as Mural, Wonder, and Slido—to help us connect with one another, collaborate, and have engaging and interactive meetings when we’re not in the same physical space.
We apply the same approaches when building lasting relationships with our clients. Typically, we get to know each other while working side by side during the day and going for dinner or after-work events at night. But we have learned that building successful client relationships can also be achieved virtually by setting aside time to have more informal conversations to get to know each other, and by using digital tools to drive engagement and build a collaborative team.
For an activity such as process mapping, for example, we normally bring a roll of meter-wide paper and tape it along the walls of a client’s conference room. Our Customer Experience (CX) team then uses colored sticky notes to collaboratively map out current and future state decision-making processes. This assessment helps us define starting and ending points for the business transformation and get everyone in the same room working together to arrive at something every stakeholder can own and understand.
We've used Mural to help us whiteboard and build out process maps virtually, effectively mimicking what our CX team used to do in person. In fact, these virtual workshops have gone so well that we will continue to use these tools in the future, whether we are on site or not.
Where we’ve found success
In addition to achieving our implementation objectives, remote work allows for many other benefits and opportunities:
- Shorter implementation timelines: Previously we would limit consecutive weeks on site to avoid burnout on both the client and Copperleaf teams. Without travel as a limiting factor, we’re able to condense implementation timelines to meet client needs.
- Greater team involvement and access to experts: Without travel, it becomes much easier for people from various departments and geographies to join a project on an ad hoc basis. Clients can access Copperleaf's entire team of experts and can also invite more of their own employees to get involved in the implementation—which helps to facilitate understanding and adoption. It's also been great to invite a wider group of Copperleaf employees to participate in the process and learn about our clients' businesses.
- Lower carbon footprint: The carbon impact of a single flight can be equivalent to going car-free (gasoline) for a year. While we recognize the value of travel for essential meetings, reducing the amount of travel when possible, will provide significant reductions in our carbon footprint.
- Greater flexibility to attend conferences and events: Hosting the Copperleaf Summit and other events in a virtual format makes it easier for attendees from across the globe to come together to exchange ideas and best practices. As one client shared: “I would never have been permitted to attend the event in person due to international travel authorization, so it was great to have the opportunity to be there virtually.”
- Increased team diversity: Allowing for a flexible and family-friendly work environment with a reduced travel schedule helps us retain employees who value work-life balance. This is one of our strategies for retaining a more diverse talent pool.
Powerco’s offices are geographically diverse so having remote workshops required less coordination, enabled greater timing flexibility, and allowed for more people to be involved. Despite the challenges, COVID-19 has had no material impact on project schedule or quality—something that all those involved should be proud of.
This past year, organizations managing critical infrastructure have faced tremendous challenges in how they operate their businesses. We are proud to have played a part in helping our clients adapt their plans to get through these uncertain times and continue to deliver the essential services that keep our communities safe and connected. When COVID-19 is behind us, we won’t return to normal—we’ll evolve into something better.
Learn more about best practices for improving business agility and accelerating post-pandemic renewal by downloading our white paper here.
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