Adjusting to the new reality of COVID-19

By Joseph Evangelist

Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange

These past several weeks have been tough for all of us as we adjust to what has become the new reality. Many states are under stay-in-place orders, many employees are now working remotely, and non-essential businesses are closed. The goal of these efforts, of course, is to limit the spread of COVID-19 so that things can return to some sense of normalcy. That said, I think we are headed for the “new normal.”

Through it all, the trucking industry has continued to operate making sure that grocery, bread, and dairy shelves are restocked as people laid in supplies for a few weeks. We’ve made sure pharmacies, hospitals and other essential businesses receive what they need as well.

Those of us in transportation and logistics have known all along that what we do is essential work, I think that view is now shared by the rest of the community.

But it has not been business as usual for the industry. Many fleets have seen a slowdown in freight if they typically deliver to businesses that are now closed because they are not considered essential. In some cases, we have been able to redirect these assets and labor to other accounts that are experiencing an uptick because of the nature of the essential services they provide.

Those of us who are still hauling freight are taking precautions to keep our drivers and our customers safe. Whether it is wiping off steering wheels, door handles, seats and shifters; providing masks and gloves, antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers to the managers, techs and drivers; or limiting congregating in dispatch or break rooms, we have changed standard operating procedures.

Within our own operations — as is true for many other fleets — we are learning as we go. There is no handbook that tells us what we need to do to keep our drivers, technicians, other employees and customers safe. Sure, we can have non-customer facing staff work remotely, but drivers, technicians and warehouse personnel need more than a laptop and internet access to do their jobs.

Each of us is making decisions based on the information we have and what makes sense given our unique operating models. One thing COVID-19 has shown is that we can be nimble and adapt to rapidly changing conditions.

No one knows when we will return to normal or what that new normal might be, so we will continue to adapt our policies and procedures to make sure everyone is safe. I feel strongly that when this is all over, that we shouldn’t dispense with ­­­all the lessons we learned from the way we responded to this pandemic. I am certain we can use many of them to make our businesses even more efficient than they were before.

In the meantime, be safe out there.

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