The employees who inspect and monitor all of the structures and pipes within the regional sewer system have a big job to do – with over 380 miles of sewer pipes to check, spread out over 424 square miles. The Conveyance Inspection and Flow Monitoring (CIFM) group uses instruments and equipment to see what’s happening in this complex, underground system. They are specially trained to ensure the team’s safety when they have to enter confined spaces, or they use cameras and sewer robots to check conditions.
When about half of our approximately 700 utility employees started working from home, they quickly adapt to this new hybrid way of working to assure our essential services to the public continued. The other half of our workforce – namely those who maintain and operate our regional treatment plants and associate smaller facilities, can only do their jobs in person. And some teams work both in the field and at home, like the inspection group.
While some employee teams have had to work harder and smarter to manage the impacts of working remotely, some groups have found some aspects of their jobs are easier.
“Our world changed,” says Mike Sands, Conveyance Inspection Lead. “As a group that is primarily in the field and relies on each other – it was difficult, as it was for everyone who is at home trying to figure out how to do their job virtually. We were so used to talking over the aisle or cubical wall when we needed something.”
Mike and his teams say, along the way, they figured it out and began to find efficiencies in how they managed their work.
The team uses virtual meetings and texting to keep everyone connected. One of the biggest ways they are more efficient is that they don’t have to spend time commuting into an office – they can go directly out to the field. “We can bring our vehicles home or have them parked nearby at a county facility for safe keeping,” says Mike.
This new efficiency enabled the group to catch up on the current workload and slowly work away at a backlog of work that had been building up for years. “Everyone in the group helps find the best way to approach our work. This is our new normal”.