Lasting Changes from COVID by Kate Vigneau

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Kate Vigneau
Kate Vigneau, Director (Fleet and Canada) for Matrix Consulting Group. PHOTO Kate Vigneau

The pandemic has significantly altered the way that we conduct our business and personal lives, but when it does finally subside, which of these changes are likely to stick with us?

Let’s take a minute to think back to how things were this time a year ago. Where were you at that time and what were you doing and/or planning? As for me, I had never heard of COVID-19, was doing a job I had loved for the past decade, had business trips planned to Salt Lake City, Nebraska and Long Beach and had just bought a new house with a March closing date.

Then the pandemic struck and my world spun out of orbit. As we limp into 2021, I do not think I am sure I’m not the only one reflecting on how much has changed, whether I like all these changes, and which changes are here to stay.

Assessing the situation

I think this one year later situation is a good idea to quickly jot down the three things that have changed the most in your work and your personal life over the last 12 months.

Personally, and I suspect I am not alone in this, COVID-19 has led to more time with the people in my immediate family but zero time with anyone outside my 10-person bubble. I know many people who have struggled with health issues, whether COVID or others. I broke my foot in six places and the timing turned out to be ideal as I had nowhere to go.

I have also found on a personal level that people are a little more forgiving—it’s OK if your dog barks during a zoom call or you put up a background of the beaches of Hawaii. Some of these personal changes are welcome but I am not convinced any are here to stay.

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of solid fleet management and asset deployment. Photo: FCA

On the work side, I hear from many people who miss travelling but few who miss a daily commute. We have definitely learned to use technology to enable us to accomplish tasks more effectively in a remote environment. I think I have been on five different platforms in the past month and I don’t foresee flying six hours for a one-hour meeting ever again.

Although I didn’t expect to be job hunting, I wasn’t alone, as shifts in the industry led to many of us seeking new opportunities. A very promising change has been a heightened awareness of the importance of fleet and the people who operate, maintain and manage the assets that deploy law enforcement, make deliveries, transport people and much more.

Highlighting the value

It is this last change that I hope will stick the most. In many organizations, the fleet has often been seen as a necessary evil—a deep well that sucks up money and time and generates little to no revenue. The global pandemic, however, has highlighted the value of having the right assets, in terms of people and resources, to allow the organization to pivot and respond to the emergency.

Experienced Fleet Managers have proven to be invaluable in adapting Emergency Preparedness Plans, acquiring additional assets and changing shop workflow to safely operate during this extended crisis. To make this change stick, we need to share our success stories and continue to emphasize the important role that the fleet team is playing on a daily basis.

Kate Vigneau serves as Director (Fleet and Canada) for Matrix Consulting Group, a consulting firm concentrating on finding solutions to client’s management, staffing and operational concerns. She is responsible for Matrix’s fleet solutions division as well as the lead for expansion in all functional areas related to business in Canada.

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