By Karen L. Edwards, RT3 Director
Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3) member Rackley Roofing of Carthage, Tenn., recently shared on a special webinar how the company has been able to go 100% virtual. As a technology-focused company, Rackley Roofing was recognized as the RT3 Innovator of the Year in 2019 and had a good head start on moving their business entirely to the cloud.
The first step that Rackley Roofing took in responding to COVID-19 was to limit those employees who were frequently in and out of the office such as salespeople and estimators. They were the first ones in the company to work from home and they were prepared to do that since they are used to working from other locations.
Then, as things continued to worsen, they made the decision to not allow anyone to work together in their offices. “We announced this around lunchtime and by 5 p.m., everyone had what they needed and were prepared to work from home starting the next day,” explained Rackley Roofing COO and Chief Integrator Michelle Boykin.
Here are three key steps Boykin and her team took to go virtual:
- Apps and cloud-based software. “Our field staff has been fully digital for several years so nothing changed for them,” said Boykin. “We use Dataforma and the field staff is used to using the apps that they provide. We also use an app called About Time for tracking field operations.” The Dataforma software features audit logs so Boykin’s team is able to see who is logged in, when they were logged in and what they did while they were using the program. Boykin said that the Rackley Roofing office staff was prepared to be virtual. “I think having several offices across the state of Tennessee has helped us. We are used to conducting virtual meetings. We’ve been using a scorecard system for most of our employees for about 18 months and most of the software that we use is web-based,” she said.
- The right equipment. Rackley Roofing made the decision about 18 months ago to only purchase laptops for new employees and when replacing desktop computers. Portable equipment with access to cloud-based software and file storage is key to enabling team members to work remotely. Boykin said the company had a forced test run at virtual operations a few weeks before the pandemic shut things down because their area was hit with some severe tornadoes. “We were fortunate that none of our offices were hit and no team members were affected by the storms, but we lost power and we lost internet,” said Boykin. “We were running the business off cellular hotspots. There was a bit of chaos that first day, but we figured it out and it was quickly business as usual.” Boykin said the test run gave them the chance to work out any glitches and come up with a plan so it wasn’t hard to make the transition when the pandemic forced business closures and required people to work from home.
- Keeping the team engaged. The company was already using Slack for communications and Boykin said she has noticed even better communications now that they are virtual. “We use Slack everyday to keep employees engaged and communicating,” Boykin said. “We’ve been discussing our company’s core values and we ask everyone to mention an employee who has demonstrated one of our core values. Managers have been holding daily Zoom meetings with their direct reports to keep that face-to-face contact with their teams. “What we have seen happening is that we have better communication than we had when we were in the office because you have to be so intentional about it. It’s really helped us improve our communications," explained Boykin. She added: "It’s also really helped us as owners to see who is passionate about their jobs and who is really putting in the effort. I think it’s going to have an impact on us in the future as to who we let work from home and what our office looks like going forward.”
Watch the full webinar on the RT3 YouTube channel.