The People Behind the Front Lines at Brunel: USA

In the midst of global instability, projects, companies and contractors worldwide are learning to improvise. So is Brunel. Our operations teams are working harder than ever to bring a sense of stability to the lives of our clients and contractors caught in the crossfire.

How can I go into work if I’m quarantined? Will I still get paid? Do I have to use my holiday days? What if my project gets cancelled? What happens if I contract COVID-19? Will my health insurance cover it? How can I get back to my home country with closed borders?

These questions are keeping Brunel’s global operations teams busy. But with it comes the satisfaction of helping keep their contractors safe, healthy and sane when it’s needed the most — all while helping clients keep project operations running as smoothly as possible. 

Those braving the front lines are the regional Operation Managers themselves. We’ve sat down to (virtually) hear from each of them. What we learned: Brunel doesn’t sleep until our people are taken care of.  

Lisa Matthews, US Operations Manager: “It has been inspiring to see people come up with new ideas and solutions and to support each other.” 

As the regional Operations Manager of Brunel USA, how have the past few weeks been in a nutshell? 

"The initial weeks were extremely busy, quite crazy actually, as we tried to navigate the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation. Now that we are two months in, we have switched from crisis management mode to maintaining our new normal – working remotely to ensure business continuity and supporting our contractors and clients."

What’s been particularly challenging during this time? 

"It has been challenging knowing what, when and how to communicate. As we know, communication is key, so ensuring we were communicating in an effective way and providing current, accurate information when the situation was changing from day to day. Our teams and our contractors had to adapt quickly to a new way of working. We deployed our Brunel teams to work remotely and we worked with our clients to ensure that a majority of our contractor workforce could continue to work remotely also."

What’s been positive, motivating or uplifting? Any inspiring stories to share? 

"It has been positive to see how people were able to adapt to the remote working situation and stay connected to ensure business continuity. It has been motivating to receive messages of thanks and appreciation from our contractors and clients as we navigate this situation together. It has been inspiring to see people come up with new ideas and solutions and to support each other and the business. 

We have also shared recipes and Corona Contests for the entire team to participate in: B-Fit challenges, Throwback Thursdays, introduce us to your Corona Co-Worker. You still have to have a laugh and some fun when possible — we have also tapped into our creativity to virtually celebrate birthdays, work anniversaries, Easter, baby showers and new additions to the family — puppies!" 

How is the Brunel team in your region working hard to ensure essential projects stay on track? 

"Prior to COVID-19, we had launched our Lean initiatives. This is such an important project for the region, however the immediate focus was obviously on navigating the challenges of COVD-19.  
The teams have now been able to reconvene and adjust some of the delivery dates, and we are very happy to say that we are on track again with our Lean projects. With the COVID-19 situation we have also taken on additional responsibilities regarding health checks and temperature reporting as per client requests for certain sites and locations, ensuring we communicate new safety protocols to our contractor workforce."

How has your team managed to stay connected to your clients/contractors during this situation?

"Thank goodness for Microsoft Teams! Teams' ease of use and reliability has enabled us to have regular team meetings and calls with visuals, which is important to keep everyone connected in a remote working situation. We use Connect to post important updates and hold virtual Town Halls every two weeks to communicate updates and include a Q&A session. Our contractors receive regular calls and emails from their Account Manager, and we send communications and important updates via email."

Which services are now more critical than ever in your region?

"So many services are critical!  Logistics and Safety have been critical, Account Management and Payroll too. We have been very busy arranging repatriation and demobilization for contractors and family members under difficult travel conditions with airlines offering limited routes and connections and many global travel restrictions. 

Account Managers work closely with our clients to ensure contractors have the ability to keep working if possible and provide support to comply with CDC and governmental orders and rules.

Ensuring payroll is processed on time and accurately given logistical challenges with timesheet submissions and approvals and having solutions available for our clients and contractors. 
Safety is always a priority in our business, however with COVID-19 we face a new level of safety and the implementation of temperature checks, Essential Worker approvals, ergonomic working from home and a process for monitoring symptoms and the quarantine process."

Anything else you’d like to add?

"In the situation we are currently experiencing, no one has all of the answers and we see changes on a regular basis. Remember that we are all in this together and navigating uncharted waters.  People are under pressure for many different reasons. Be kind to one another, listen and support each other during these challenging times. Remember to smile and that a little laughter goes a long way during difficult times! 😉"