Tuesday 14 April 2020

Coming Out The Other Side?

In these uncertain times we are all looking at how we work differently, and perhaps/hopefully a lot of these changes will remain in place for longer regardless of how much normality returns.

Working from home has in all honesty been so much nicer than working at an office, and there is so much at the office that we really don't need.  We are lucky in the sense that there is space at home to work without getting under someone else's feet (or someone else getting under yours).  There are only three real pains in the scenario:-

1) Whilst we can back up data to an outside server, we are not set up to back up to our in-house server.
2) Most of our equipment is the same for each Surveyor so they can be solo teams, but there are a few items where we had to introduce a 'dead drop' leaving at least 24 hours between drop off and collection, along with good wipe down!  At least in the early stages - now it is more a case of remember how the kits works!
3) We are still paying for office space - which is in essence a fancy lok'n'store now!

Hardly difficult problems to overcome if we decided to follow this working style long term as a matter of choice.  Software at the moment works well thanks to the consideration of Apps In CAD to provide 30 day license free of charge to supplement our existing license (on a dongle!).  This might be something that stays in future, or we revert to an on-line license only.  There might also be a few new laptops in the offing to make working remotely easier, but these are relatively small costs for a company to bare.

The situation has also provided the gift of time to train on something new, or enhance existing knowledge.  The cost of this gift is yet to fully ascertained, but the removal of financial worry (in the short term at least) makes a massive difference and we can only hope those who can use any surplus to invest in companies who might need that little bit more support.

Looking at the books currently with the option of furlough & small business grants we are still in good financial stead, and there will be a tipping point between coming out with the books better than when we left them, and carrying a small financial burden ourselves for the good of all the staff.  This in itself seems wrong so as company we will commit to ensure any financial benefit we have gained as a result of circumstance is redirected to those who need it most - we'll put that one down to a staff vote with a couple of options!

As Covid-19 progresses, and we see glimmers of hope in Italy and Spain were limited persons/companies are allowed back to work, there is the start of consideration about our return to work - whilst Surveying is part of construction there has never been any doubt that ceasing site activities was (and is) the right option.  Regardless of Government advice this was a MORAL decision - whilst 'we could' the debate was whether 'we should'!  Some thought they should continue so you must respect that decision if it can be justified, but the majority knew they had an obligation to the wider community not to continue.  Whatever your decision there is no wrong or right answer as there is no way to tell what might have happened if things were done differently.

What will you do differently once this is over (or under some semblance of control?)

Work Less - Spend More Time with the Family - Stop Putting Off Those Jobs Around the House - Expand the Business - Promote Home Working - Spilt Your Profits more between Investments/Savings/Dividends to better cover the 'What If Scenario' - Build Up an Emergency Kit Supply - Read More Books - Take More Walks - Waste Less Food

The silver lining here could be a better and strong sense of community, and appreciation for the world we live in.  What will you do differently?

Thursday 9 April 2020

Finding a Different Perspective

First Day back after the 2019 Christmas break......always important to remove the out of office assistant (set for a few days time just in case you fancied a few extra days!) and check your calendar for the coming weeks before starting your first survey of the year...…..

...and of course got drenched, even at my size!  The water droplets are massive, and the kit takes just as long to dry out!!

 Sometimes we have to set up some unusual places to get our work done, but whenever you think you've gone far enough there is another challenge - keeping your feet dry!

But wherever you end up, you could always do with the helping hand and a slightly more elevated vantage point.

There are always days when a better vantage point makes absolutely no difference at all, you just have to knuckle down pull out the slasher and get on with the work at a much slower pace!

Unfortunately we have yet to invest in a 'mini' laser scanner so it is back to the tried and tested ways for me, but being this height makes the higher observations even harder to get in position for!

And of course no matter wherever you are or whatever you are doing someone always asks you to take their picture!! But from a safe distance of course!

Stay Safe People!

Wednesday 8 April 2020

A World Gone Mad?

There is no wrong answer to this question - which comes first Business or Britain? (Sorry to Northern Ireland you are included but Britain sounded better in this instance!).

Over the past few weeks I have seen numerous posts showing companies doing all they can to maintain their business activities but with a difference. Adjusting their SOP's (Site Operating Procedures) to include Hand Sanitisers at all entrances, 2m personal working zones, scaling down operations where possible but maintaining a workable site, offset shift patterns....these are all laudable activities and fit nicely into the Government advice that the construction sector should continue where possible...of course there is an underlying moral issue of whilst we could you have to ask if we should.

Amending SOP's is great within that site bubble, but companies do also need to consider the wider picture, of which I have seen scant little of.

Bigger picture

Whilst a site might be isolated, and social distancing can be easily achieved, there is more to consider:-

1.  The site might be isolated but the journey to and from won't be. On that journey they might (for example) breakdown, need fuel, or have an accident. Automatically isolation has gone and social distancing is more of a concern.

     1a: If they breakdown someone has to go and recover them - so it's not just one person taking a risk now it is a second, and all the people that person interacts with.

     1b: If they need fuel that means going to a busier location, and touching metal surfaces which are likely to be have been touched by hundreds/thousands of people over the past few weeks. Yet another point of risk.

1c: God forbid they have an accident but that is likely to involve recovery, police and an ambulance. You can see this snowballing already...

2.  Once you're at site it is virtually impossible to spend the day not touching anything, and who knows whom might have contact with any of the surfaces in the past few days/weeks. Yes, a construction site is generally enclosed but as Surveyors we often arrive before the construction site to land open to the public. Whilst protection can be provided it will have its limitations, and will rely on everyone doing their bit. However, we are there, on a remote isolated site. What could possibly go wrong?   -Well,  our risk assessment does include death & broken limbs, so worst case scenario that happens and you have to call in help - putting more people at risk, and adding to the burden of the NHS, would you want to make that choice? Treat those who have fallen ill through no fault of their own or the worker who went to site and has an accident?

3. Your site has been very prudent in the hand washing and sanitising, then I go onto to site with all my equipment.....In error that hasn't been sanitised since my last job because upon getting home I had to go straight out for the weekly shop, and drop a prescription off for an elderly neighbour! Someone moves the survey pole to a safer location, or carries some of the kit...….infection is spreading!

4.  Survey complete - see point 1 on the return home!

5.   Do you self isolate for the a fortnight now, or will you have to go out shopping at some point, or collect a prescription?

It isn't just Surveyors doing this, I have seen ads for Architects suggesting now is the time to build the swimming pool or outside office you have always wanted and are now in need of....  How exactly is this essential and do they not know that to achieve these ideas numerous people will have to visit the properties to map, design, approve, and build?!  A hashtag doing the rounds seems like a pretty good one in these circumstances #covidiots.

There is a clear duty of care, and 90% of our clients have accepted our decision and are willing to wait. R L Surveys are no longer undertaking site works - any existing jobs which have been postponed will be given priority once lockdown protocols are eased or rescinded, all other jobs are being ask to take a number and will be completed in the order instructions are received (13 and counting!!). At least our staff have the piece of mind that once we are through to the other side (what ever it may look like) the work will be there...and to be honest they are going to need to be well rested given the amount of work we have ready to start!

If your company are promoting your safe working systems - highlighting that your staff have all started to work from home - please respect & SUPPORT those people who work on site, and don't ask us to do something your own company is not willing to ask you to do - take the risk.

#StaySafe #Protectthenhs #Savelives