In the heat of the moment, the normal human response to a novel threat is to look back and to rely on proven tools and tactics readily at hand. And this is how many western societies and businesses have decided to respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Since COVID-19 is being transmitted through respiratory droplets and has been proven to linger on multiple surfaces, most OECD economies decided to adopt social distancing.
Multiple cities have enacted strict actions to contain the spread of the virus, implementing quarantine measures and shutting down most businesses, and many companies have put in place a series of social distancing measures, such as a work from home strategy.
While this strategy has the potential to work for those employees who are principally in commercial roles, including finance, procurement, trading, HR, legal, administration, IT and other similar service jobs; it might be more difficult for those working in the oil and gas sector. The constant need for human supervision of assets and equipment, remote locations of new builds and many others make it challenging for the industry to easily meet social distancing targets.
Hand to hand virus combat actions available for oil and gas businesses, such as spacing out employees or offering gloves and masks, might be a temporary solution but are a costly add-on and a drag on productivity on the existing business. In the long run, and without vaccination readily concocted, the degradation of business performance will become permanent.
There’s a critical need for tactics that fundamentally challenge the underlying business models and structures for the oil and gas business, and digital tools have the potential to prevent the spread of the pandemic in the workplace while keeping business moving.
The longer this pandemic drags on, the more costly these manual social distancing measures will become, and the more compelling it will be to reconfigure work to permanently solve the consequences of this measure. The global disruption caused by COVID-19 represents an opportunity for the oil and gas industry to leverage the technologies and digital tools that are available to them, ensuring the safety of their employees and efficiently pursuing their activity.