DOB’s Pandemic Survey Results: Industry Scores High On COVID-19 Response
The Daily Oil Bulletin surveyed over 600 people — ranging from field workers to executives representing companies of all sizes from across the oil and gas supply chain — from March 30 to April 3 to get an understanding of how industry is responding to the dual challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting collapse in oil prices.
We asked the survey respondents about how the pandemic has affected their work environment, how their organizations are responding to the dire economic challenges industry is facing, and how financial institutions and governments can help the industry survive through the downturn. We also asked how long they expect the current downturn to last, and what the industry will look like when the dust settles.
In this, the first part of a four-part series based on the survey results, we look at how companies have transitioned their work environments in response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Canada’s oil and gas industry reacted quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic, implementing emergency response plans and ensuring the safety of its workers, according to a survey completed last week by the Daily Oil Bulletin.
Some workers, however, continue to be challenged with issues surrounding working at home, according to the over 600 industry participants. Safety in the field also remains a concern.
Going forward, communication from company leadership will be key in keeping workers on an even keel as the pandemic plays out.
Seventy-two per cent of those surveyed said their company had contingency plans in place to deal with the crisis, with 87 per cent rating their company’s response effort as good to excellent. Large organizations with revenue in excess of $1 billion were most likely to have a plan in place, at 84 per cent.
Industry quickly shifted to self-isolate workers where possible, with 85 per cent of employees now working from home. Seven per cent of respondents were still in the office, with three per cent still working in the field. Three per cent reported their companies had moved to job sharing/reduced hours, while another three per cent reported layoffs or furloughs.
There is general recognition the transition has been sudden and corporate leadership has done the best they can under challenging circumstances, indicating employees have a high level of empathy for the organization and leadership. While employees recognize the efforts of their leadership, senior leaders gave themselves a lower performance grade.
Survey respondents gave their organizations high grades for addressing safety concerns, but there were worries surrounding employment stability, work processes, work-at-home technology and stress management.
Companies have done a good job ensuring the wellbeing of employees during the crisis, said the respondents, with one respondent reporting his company has gone as far as doing daily wellness calls to ensure everything is fine.
They are also doing a good job focusing on protecting the business so it survives the downturn. However, survey respondents said they would like companies to share more information on what plans are in place as the crisis plays out over an extended period.
“What is Plan C and Plan D?” one respondent asked.
Efforts to retain jobs by focusing on pay cuts instead of immediately jumping to layoffs are appreciated by survey respondents. Employees also said employers are providing flexibility in work hours. Executives have taken pay cuts in many instances along with employees, sending a positive signal everyone is in it together. However, respondents said there is a lot of stress around job security and they would like management to address these concerns honestly and in an appropriate time frame.
Overall, organizations have also done a good job communicating with their workforce. Survey respondents report leadership is engaged in regular contact and many are receiving daily team calls, and regular staff communications. The respondents also said their leadership has been transparent about the future and the uncertainty industry faces going forward.
“We have a weekly corporate update in regards to COVID-19, including the changes that we’ve made, the impact to our business and a message that we will get through this together,” said one respondent.
Another respondent reported their company is providing “constant communication of business priorities and potential impacts and resources for mental health of employees and physical wellness during this crisis.”
Many respondents want this communication to continue and intensify, with daily calls with managers, weekly emails and regular townhall meetings. The current state of the company and what the future looks like were key messages respondents said they wanted to hear from leadership.
The respondents said they have been receiving outstanding technical support from their IT departments in moving to a working-from-home model. The key issues they saw needing further support were improving database and systems access, aging hardware needing upgrading, troubles with teleconferencing tools, and accessing technical support.
There were also a number of remote work processes that respondents said needed to be addressed. These included a need for improved interaction with coworkers and supervisors, as well as a need to ensure workflow standards are maintained.
Employees also said there needs to be some recognition of the unique problems of working at home and simultaneously parenting. Social distancing means that their kids do not have childcare and are at home. Parents are multi-tasking, and there needs to be flexibility to allow for this new reality.
Field workers had some specific safety concerns surrounding protecting themselves from COVID-19 they want to see addressed.
They also expressed concerns around how corporate communications were often designed for those working at home, with not enough information surrounding their unique circumstances.