An article by Peter Roles, Global Remote Site Consultant at 4xi Global Consulting & Solutions. Peter has over 35 years in the industry and his career has spanned oil & gas, mining, construction, and military operations across the globe including in the UK, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Australasia.
Every country, almost every sector, all of us have been impacted by the unprecedented events of the past 18 months or so. COVID-19 has exposed many weaknesses that existed before, accelerated many of the issues that we knew already were a challenge, and forced us to operate and manage business like never before.
The pandemic has resulted in a different normal and we’re still working out what the new normal looks like, including in the world of remote sites.
Here are some thoughts on how the market will be affected, and some of the key things to look out for as we anticipate what the future might hold:
More efficient operating models?
Most remote sites in mining and oil & gas have still been operating with drastically reduced staff numbers, but the world is still moving forward. There are no drastic fuel or mineral shortages, yet operating in some cases on 20% of former labor structures. The likelihood of going back to pre-pandemic staffing levels is unlikely, and the longer we cope, do we increase the business case to cut labor costs (and associated costs) going forward?
Remote working is here to stay?
There has also been a huge amount of knowledge workers who have been working from home as traveling to often far-off lands hasn’t been possible. Has it affected the business? Not really. With the surge in remote and collaboration technology including video conferencing and online meeting apps, you no longer need to be in the same room, never mind country, and apart from time zones, even on the same continent.
It’s hard to imagine why this would be discontinued.
Reducing time cost of travel, travel expense, accommodation, and potentially enhancing the work experience with these workers being able to complete their duties and commitments from wherever they decide to be.
Local labor and communities are ahead?
Long a focus for the companies and the local communities, the pandemic has placed a greater reliance on local labor, businesses, and infrastructure, and that has to be a good thing - driving not only revenue into these local communities but also lifting the skills in the labor market, and supervisory and management opportunities too. Local people mean greater use of local businesses and the building of these local communities.
This again has meant many cost savings have been made. Will this change back to what it was like before the pandemic, or will the local staff be given more responsibility?
Potential cost savings abound, but for how long?
As on-site populations substantially plummeted, and so did the need for camp services. Not just the number of people servicing these camps but also a reduction in services themselves - rather than daily room cleaning, maybe every other day. The same with laundry service, and other reductions elsewhere including food.
This raises a couple of questions, was the level of services originally scoped even necessary in the first place, and what are the service level expectations for the future to attract the right talent?
“Having spent more nights on the road than I care to mention, I provided feedback to a hotel group that when staying only a couple of nights, then frankly I don’t need (or want) a daily clean. Save labor, save on laundry, make it optional for me to opt-in (or out). They followed through and implemented the initiative across their portfolio.”
Will there be a war for talent?
The remote site business is a transient world anyway, but if my prediction is true that the future will need fewer employees, then as operators seek talent there will be more available with fewer jobs.
This will work in two ways. Those who take advantage of the employer market to drive down labor costs, and those who want to attract the best talent and therefore create and offer the best employee, work, and camp experience.
There have been winners and losers
There have been so many comments made including that anyone over the age of 60 years is at greater risk from COVID-19. This has led to many companies removing over ’60s from their sites stopped them from employing new hires in that age bracket.
"As one of those in that age bracket, with a wealth of experience, and I believe still in my prime, I believe that I should be passing my years of knowledge to the younger generation. Are we ready to lose this knowledge and experience? That’s why I joined 4xi."
Workplace Experience will be critical?
So, when companies fall into the category of seeking to attract the best, then what do they need to do to create a compelling workplace proposition. We know from our consumer research that consumer experience is key (including the Hilton housekeeping opt-in mentioned above) but what does that potentially cover in these remote places often with limited resources?
In my last BLOG post I addressed the fundamentals including safety, comfort, quality of accommodation, and connectivity with the outside world, including home and loved ones, but the list of opportunities is much broader and a construct of not just the operator’s willingness to invest but also local conditions and availability.
From leisure facilities to supermarkets, to cinemas, retail, family accommodation, the scale is almost infinite with the ability to create an environment of home comforts to a fully functional ‘town’ environment and everywhere in between.
It’s also a question of materiality
The cost of life support services in far-flung places can be very expensive, however, if that means attracting the best talent, having an engaged team that is highly productive, the investment of $100, $200, even $500 a day can return dividends to the remote site operation - finding the right balance of investment versus return is an important exercise and self-realization.
As Heraclitus said, “the only constant in life is change” and there’s never been a truer word said. If you’re thinking through what the future of your camp management services is beyond the pandemic, then get in touch today and we can help you put together your roadmap for the future.
4xi: Inspiring the future, together
4xi Senior Consultant, Peter Roles has an impressive resume in the field of global remote site services, equaled by few in the business. Prior to joining 4xi, he was the leader of a flagship project at HKIA base, Kabul in Afghanistan working with NATO and running an 8,000-persons camp.
With stints across Africa, Australasia, and the Middle East, Peter has led operations in Australia, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Mali, Kuwait, Haiti, Germany, Angola, Congo, Somalia, Zambia, and Sierra Leone. He was also the Honorary Consul for Australia for while in Angola!
Peter is also joined by Gary Mackay, another global remote site operations expert based in Santiago, Chile.
“We see a lot of opportunity in this field where often the camp management and services are ripe for driving efficiency and improvement, and an industry that will benefit from our global expertise.”
Utilizing not just our experience and expertise, and the collective strength of the 4xi network, we will be leveraging our Innovation Partner, MyFieldAudits, and with this technology that gives clients 24/7 visibility into operations and tracking key performance indicators in real-time.
4xi is approaching the business from the essential building foundations of Health & Safety, and Quality Assurance of the facilities services.
But we're really drilling down into the efficiency of each individual service provided – from food to housekeeping to maintenance to transportation, and the personnel employed, supply chain and the actual quality and cost of the outcomes delivered.
“Our 4xi Global Remote Site Consulting offering is designed to really help clients get hold of their camp management services, hold their contractors accountable, and get the very best experience for their people at a fair and reasonable price.”
4xi Global Workplace Consulting & Solutions provides a range of services to support Corporations, Service Providers, Innovators, and Accelerators to navigate the world of work. Inspiring the future of work, together.
4xi is proud to be Chair of WORKTECH Academy for North America and a member of its Leadership Advisory Board. 4xi is a Global Ambassador for WORKTECH Academy.
San Francisco | New York | Orlando | North Carolina | Santiago | London | Tokyo