insights | 08.03.20

Are you a Robot?

How construction technology improves employee satisfaction

By Kendall Pouland, Director of Tech & Innovation, Tellepsen

Have you ever been working on a boring mind-numbing task for hours and knew your time would be better spent on something else? We’ve all been there at some point. But that's just how it works, right? Maybe not.

Our team members aren't robots. They are all smart, talented individuals with a variety of experiences and expertise. Everyone in our company is capable of relationship-building, brainstorming, problem-solving, collaborating, and decision-making. So it is critically important that we tap into those skills, the skills that robots cannot do, to be at our best as individuals, teams, and a company.

How can technology help us become that better version of ourselves? Let's start with a few real examples:

  • Problem: One employee was coming in one Saturday a month to run a report for each project to email out to the project team. Sometimes the weekend is the only time to focus on a mundane task without interruption. Solution: Re-write the report in a new format and set up a schedule to automatically email the report out to the assigned project team members monthly. Check.
  • Problem: Subcontract documents are required to be signed by at least three parties and then the executed files need to be returned to each of them. One signature sometimes involved five steps or more between receiving the email, saving the file, signing the document, re-saving the revised file, and emailing it back. Multiply times three. A delay in completing these steps before allowing the subcontractor to work can be big money. Solution: DocuSign documents are sent through an automatic workflow where each party can easily sign from their mobile device and then everyone automatically receives the final executed version. Check.
  • Problem: Annually, every tradesperson on any project is required to watch a Safety Orientation video, then fill out a paper form confirming they acknowledge the safety expectations. That paper is then tossed into a box, and eventually, the stack will get scanned and each page properly saved.Solution: Provide a Smartsheet link to each worker to complete their acknowledgment form digitally and create a workflow to email the project team the necessary details. Check.
  • and many more…

The goal is to replace dull, manual steps with technology applications so that all of our valued employees can regularly work on tasks that are challenging, thought-provoking, and rewarding. No one should leave at the end of the day feeling like a robot. They should feel needed. They should feel important. They should feel empowered.

Then let's do it! Is it that easy? Yes and No.

The first step to making our work more meaningful is Identification. Individuals and managers must identify where they have tasks that could be automated. We need to open our eyes and recognize where technology could play a bigger role in our workflow. The next step is to Brainstorm ideas and options. This should involve all the individuals involved in the workflow in question as well as the technology team. Open the floor to big and small ideas, good ones and bad ones, and think outside the box. Consider applications we already have in our tech stack and others that we may need to invest in. The next step, Development, is where the rubber meets the road. The team will have to research, test, develop, test, revise, and test again. Some options may work and others may need tweaking. This step may take time, but usually, the juice is worth the squeeze. The last step is Implementation. If the first steps are done well, this should be smooth. Create documentation of the changes and roll them out to the group. Since they have been involved in the development and are likely beneficiaries of the improved process, hopefully, everyone will be accepting of some change.

We all want a job that is satisfying and fulfilling. We don't want to be robots. But we all need to play a part in making that happen. We each need to invest in our happiness. Is it worth the effort? ABSOLUTELY.