A few weeks ago, many of us were in the same kind of routine. Whatever the schedule may be, basically we got up on Monday morning and headed to the office to do whatever it is that we do every day.

The division of work life and home life felt much more separate than they feel today. While I have supported systems remotely for years, it has not been normal for me to work from home for many days in a row.

I must also add, that it is not only an adjustment for me, but for my family as well. They are not used to me being at the house during the day, though I did get some quality time with my son teaching him about ControlLogix hardware and software, so he is probably wishing I was back at work.

We all hope and assume this time will pass and things will “get back to normal” as soon as possible. But will they? What is next? And what will change in the coming months?

I don’t pretend to have those answers, but from the experiences I have had, I have made some observations about what I believe will change from a work perspective.

Social distancing will continue

No more hugging at the office guys. Seriously, the risk of how quickly many people can become infected very quickly has come to light and companies will not want to risk shutting down an operation due to too many people being sick at one time.

Community coffee pot gatherings will become a thing of the past. Social distancing will be enforced from the office kitchen to every aspect of life.

I believe the division in control rooms and isolation of employees will continue as well. Control rooms and heavy interaction personally with one another will no longer be allowed.

Phones will not be shared among multiple employees and you won’t shake hands with coworkers when you enter a control room. May as well get used to it.

Work schedules and locations will be divided

While most people will be expected to return to the office when the quarantine is over, the capabilities have now been proven that people can work remotely with equal productivity as the office.

While some things may require an office visit, working remotely has now become a proven reality that it can and does work. I would expect there to be more of a mixed location schedule between the home and the office for many people that have the capability.

Evaluation of remote support capabilities

Those of us working from home more the last few weeks have probably had to evaluate how well we can support our systems with the same level of support as being onsite:

  • System documentation, drawings and address lists are important to have at your fingertips for troubleshooting remotely in a timely manner
  • Checklists for remotely checking hardware systems become extremely important so hardware failures do not go unnoticed for long periods of time
  • System alarming and monitoring of control systems from redundancy, I/O and network failures becomes a necessity.

Conclusion

Hopefully during this challenging time, you have been able to work productively and effectively as well as support your systems remotely.

If there have been gaps in your remote support capabilities, hopefully you have made the necessary adjustments to bridge the gaps.

The social changes are probably not going anywhere for a long time, so we better be prepared.

Written by Brandon Cooper
Senior Controls Engineer and Freelance Writer

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Brandon Cooper


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