From the beginning of the health crisis, Sorigué’s different business areas soon adapted to keep the city’s services active, following the instructions of the Corporate Contingency Committee, a body specifically created to combat the situation in a coordinated manner at a business group level, while also applying the appropriate measures in accordance with the nature of each contract and the requirements of each client.
This process, not without its problems, has also provided a series of lessons and changes, many of which were already in the implementation process, but under the current circumstances had to be expedited, with very positive results. Examples include the organisation of staff into teams and fixed shifts, adaptation to working from home for some job profiles and the digitalisation of processes, among other improvements.
Thanks to effective management and the commitment of all the teams involved, Sorigué has been able to ensure the ongoing operation of hydraulic infrastructure, the maintenance of cities’ drinking water networks, waste management, street cleaning, the maintenance and disinfection of public roadways, gardens and facilities, as well as hospitals, and the conservation of roads and motorways.
“Managing our services during these months has been a challenge. Thanks to the effort of our whole team, we have managed to keep our contracts active with efficiency and responsibility, while always protecting people’s health and meeting the specific requirements of our clients”, explains Luis Villena, CEO of the business group.
The main measures and challenges that all the business areas had to confront are as follows: the rapid delivery of PPE for all teams (masks, gloves, disinfectant gel and suitable clothing when required); the reorganisation of teams on the ground to act in case of emergencies; the increase or reorganisation of vehicle fleets so that vehicles are used by one person; the daily disinfection of vehicles along with machinery and tools; and the management of the closure of common areas in work centres, such as changing rooms and dining rooms.
“Due to the lack of knowledge over the extent of the pandemic, and given the state of emergency, it was agreed with the different administrations that we would carry out the most urgent highway maintenance works, winter road maintenance and section patrols. This enabled us to set aside the means and equipment to deal with possible emergencies that may arise, thus guaranteeing service continuity”, explains a member of staff from the Highway maintenance area.
A similar protocol was established for the Drinking water network maintenance service for Madrid, with the establishment of the so-called “cleaning brigades”, which implied keeping all brigades assigned to the contract in groups on a rotational basis in order to avoid any hypothetical infection of the equipment.
“Going out to work when there is no one in the streets commands great respect. There was no procedure that said how to act, how to clean or disinfect, what to touch and what not to touch”, states a member of staff from the Waste management area, adding “there were no procedures for situations like that, which is why we had to apply criteria and common sense following the Contingency Committee”.
The organisation did not just reduce personnel on the ground. The challenge was also present in the offices, where the majority of teams had to transition to working remotely from home. In all centres, staff presence was reduced to a minimum, and intensive working days introduced to avoid the use of common areas.
“Ensuring our activity has required an organisational change to adapt to remote working both at a technological and functional level. This adaptation, with no possibility of advance planning and requiring stringent respect towards the change in work habits, was also key in ensuring that the quality of our work was not affected”, explains staff from the Urban maintenance area in Barcelona.
Public sector clients and the general public
All areas highlight the fact that this crisis has strengthened relations with clients, the majority of whom are from public administration. With many clients they have had to work in a close and coordinated manner throughout the pandemic. “To combat any doubt, we have always offered a reasoned proposal, and that’s why we have received appreciation”, comments a member of staff from the Waste management area.
“They have regarded the rapid adaptation at logistics levels as positive, as in very little time it has allowed a change in hours, work shifts and presence during the working day while complying with safety measures. They have also appreciated the fact that we have proposed solutions to the problems we have been presented with”, states staff from the Drinking water network maintenance in Andalusia.
Another important aspect is that many services have adapted themselves to the situation by carrying out the disinfection of streets, as they have done in the Landscaping and green areas, and Highway maintenance. Other contracts, especially Urban maintenance contracts, have carried out food distribution and supported the most vulnerable community.
Lessons for the future
All business areas have highlighted the importance of upholding and standardising many procedures that were acquired through improvisation during these months. In the same way, they recall the need to maintain sufficient stocks of masks, gels and disinfectant material.
“The services need to set out different organisational systems to serve the needs that may arise in the future. We must advance in the area of digitalisation and in the remote controlling of contracts. It has been demonstrated that there are equally efficient ways of undertaking work”, state staff from the area for Landscaping and green areas.
In the Highway maintenance area, staff believe that the importance of having dedicated workers in the company has become apparent. Staff motivation has been key in complicated circumstances.
“This crisis has also shown that working remotely is a positive thing. Looking ahead towards an uncertain future, remote working will still be necessary and is another valid option for ensuring the survival and sustainability of the company”, they add.
“Lockdown has made us lose our fear of change. We must take advantage of the capacity to adapt shown and translate it into a benefit for the team and the company. We have demonstrated that, against all odds, problems can be a source of opportunity for improvement, and must be confronted without fear of failure or error”, comments a member of staff from Urban maintenance in Barcelona.
As a general reflection, the different business areas believe that this crisis has demonstrated the professional nature of the team and its capacity to face up to highly demanding challenges.