Coronavirus and field service

Written by
Laurence Cramp

Coronavirus and field service

Written by
Laurence Cramp

Coronavirus and field service

Written by
Laurence Cramp

The economic impact

It's been terrible reading the news of the ongoing impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19). Extensive efforts to contain the coronavirus have caused economic growth in China to slow drastically and are creating shockwaves around the world. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has forecast global economic growth of just 2.4% in 2020, down from 2.9% in November. It predicts that a "longer lasting and more intensive" outbreak could halve growth to some 1.5% in 2020.

A pandemic lasting six months could knock $1.1 trillion off the expected growth of global GDP, according to a report by Oxford Economics. Along with weaker Chinese import demand, a sharp drop in industrial activity in China and other countries may cause substantial supply-side disruption. Consumers will spend less (as is already being shown in China) and staff will be unable to work.

Travel and tourism will drop sharply and investment will inevitably fall as a result. Airlines expect demand to drop 4.7 per cent in 2020, which would lead to the first overall decline in global air travel since 2008.

The field service impact

Field service professionals are often on the front line. They are working to keep the lights on, keep water supplies clean and make deliveries to customers which might be essential for them. Technicians are the face that customers see in the field and often the foundation on which a service business is built on.

Depending on how the virus develops it is likely to present a whole host of challenges to service businesses.

These might include:

Supply chain

A recent report by Fortune has suggested that 94 percent of companies on the Fortune 1000 list have already experienced supply chain disruptions related to Coronavirus. Given current uncertainty surrounding Coronavirus it is likely that service organisations will need to hold more stock and inventory, particularly of critical parts and those that are sourced from global supply chain partners - either directly or indirectly.

It goes without saying that if the logistics sector significantly deteriorates, COVID-19 will become a problem for a lot of field service businesses. Even where you don't purchase goods directly from China one of your suppliers will do.


In many industries including service organisations the availability of suitably qualified and skilled resources is already limited. Strict quarantines in key locations and geographies will take a toll on the service workforce. Assuming employees have to or choose to stay at home this could impact the available resource to carry out planned and unplanned maintenance and work might not get delivered on time as a result.

Customer access

A lot of field service staff who support customers and attend their properties or businesses (for everything from meter reading to service installation to delivery and drop off) will be at an increased risk of something like Coronavirus. They will need to be supported to stay healthy and risks will need to be minimised as much as possible.

The challenge of maintaining levels of customer experience that will continue to be demanded will present ongoing challenges. From cleaners, other tradespeople to utility workers, there are many field workers that may risk coming into contact with the virus if they visit a place where an infected person has been.

Effective work and resource planning

Where workers do need to go off work on sick leave or are self-isolating or refusing to work, this will have a sudden impact on your service delivery. Effective demand planning helps to ensure that the resources you have available remain in place to realise operational goals and that workforce supply and demand is aligned. In the case of something like Coronavirus your scheduling and dispatch teams will need to work hard to prioritise demand as effectively as possible whilst maximising available capacity for available field resources.

A good scheduling solution can obviously help with this but it is also important to have robust planning in place alongside a way to forecast different resourcing scenarios that could impact your business. Resilience planning will also help.

What to do?

Set customer expectations

On My Way allows your customers to see all the information they need to know about their service appointment including the location of the technician visiting their home or premises, in real-time via their desktop or mobile device. It would be a really powerful tool to help your customers understand when their service visit will take place. It stays updated according to the availability of your field resources and would help you to set your customer's expectations where the service visit is delayed or needs to change.

Speak to us to trial it for your business today.

Give support remotely

Remote Expertise can often be a really effective substitute for in-person collaboration. Where your workers are unable to get to work merged reality can help them to support the continued operation of mission-critical systems. Merged reality would provide AR-enabled remote guidance through proprietary technology. This innovative technology would allow global organisations to remain productive in geographies where experts are no longer allowed to travel due to COVID-19.

Inspection, maintenance, setup, and repair operations can be performed through remote collaboration without the need to be physically present. Remote experts can show customers and technicians how to solve a problem using gestures, tools, and visual aids. By merging the expert’s actions into the live video stream of the field, the expert is virtually present.

Visit this page for more information.

Plan for resilience

Being aware of the impacts to your business and supply chain and planning for these is of vital importance. Take a look at all of your business processes, particularly the most critical ones, and evaluate what impact disruption may have - whether due to supply chain, geographical, customer or workforce disruption.

We can help - get in touch!