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The post-pandemic energy workforce

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Oilfield Technology,

Janette Marx, Airswift, recently sat down with several energy industry leaders to discuss what the energy workforce will look like post-pandemic. In her first blog following this session, she shares insights on how working practices have shifted since the start of COVID-19 and how Airswift think it will influence the future of work.

Change, change, change

The workplace has already changed – companies are hiring via video interviews, new hires are onboarding from home and people are demonstrating that they can adapt, and quickly. In fact, Rod Nelson, Chairman at Rival Downhole Tools noted that: “We aren’t going to go back. This change we’re going through of people working remotely, it was going to come anyway and COVID has accelerated it.”

Even if that’s so, change can bring uncertainty. For the energy workforce, remote work has brought some benefits.

Mark Dickinson, COO at Blue Water Energy observed: “Employees are not missing the commute at all! This has given people extra time to do some proper creative thinking without the constant office interruptions.”, yet he also reflected on the negative side of remote working too. “Everybody misses the social interaction, although some people can deal with that better than others.”

I think this is an incredibly important message. I’ve seen new modules on learning-management systems like working safely from home or looking after your physical and mental safety to help people who feel isolated or are in quarantine.

I’ve also seen a lot more kick-off coffees to start the day, and virtual happy hours at the end of the week. People are much more tolerant too. Someone sitting with their child on their lap is normal now. Our openness to a true family life has changed – and it’s okay.

From the office workforce to the field

We have 7000 contractors on our books worldwide, so our teams have an in-depth understanding of how COVID-19 is impacting jobs and worksites.

In the US, things are changing very quickly. Gabriel Rio, CEO at Milestone Environmental Services remarked: “Every company in our sector is getting smaller and going through the unfortunate process of shedding jobs. The workforce will definitely be smaller but will have to remain as productive as before.”

So how do we do that while preserving the talent that is critical to recovery?

Gabriel’s thoughts are that companies need to “reduce spend at the same time as preserving enough key people to be able to reanimate and rebuild rig crews quickly.” Rod added that “Project managers are going to have a tough job and they’re going to have to be very good at creating teams. Companies that get really good at that will be the winners.”

Culture complexity

Culture resonates more now than ever – in the worst times, it can really hold a company together, even if your vision pivots or evolves. I’ve seen that time and time again.

A weak culture makes it much harder to survive times of uncertainty. Rod adds that: “Companies will have to create a culture around an individual project, whatever that is. That’s much more difficult.”

However, the way people work has changed through this. I’ve seen people who were against remote working before change their minds. That’s going to be part of the culture now.

Mark puts it perfectly: “After all, what is a business? It’s ideas, it’s capital and it’s people.” Culture is critical to the way we will operate moving forward.

The future workforce is continuing to evolve as we continue through this pandemic. At Airswift, we believe those that are quick to adapt to the needs and demands of their workforce will succeed in retaining talent and stay one step ahead.

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