Managing a work crew can be difficult in the city, but in a rural area, it can be next to impossible. Managing both employee and business needs are made more difficult given the large amount of space that can occur with a rural environment. Being prepared in advance is key, so here are ten things every foremen needs to know about managing a rural work crew.
- Set up Base
Have a central reporting area that all employees can check in and check out of daily. Rural sheds are perfect for this purpose, and can be made portable and customized to business needs.
- Manage Breaks
It is a requirement by law that employees have the correct amount of breaks based on the amount of hours they work. The Australian Fair Work Ombudsman website, for example, requires that employees get both rest breaks and meal breaks based on the amount of hours they work.
- Manage Hours
Overtime is a concern when working in a rural area, as it takes longer to get back to a central location for the day. Make sure that your hourly workers do not get distracted and work over the amount of hours required by law to pay over time.
- First Aid Kits
Make sure the first aid kit is up to date and complete, and keep a couple extra ones on hand at all times, especially if managing a work crew requires some mobility. Check periodically with the contents to make sure they are created with the specific job in mind.
- Document Now
Document things as they occur, do not wait until the end of the day to fill out paperwork or make notes about the day. This way, the information is fresh and not likely to be forgotten. This is especially important when it comes to workplace accidents and corrective actions.
- Count your Staff
Working in a rural area can be difficult with changing weather and terrains. Periodically check in with your staff members to ensure they are productive and safe.
- Check the Equipment
Check equipment before the shift, during the shift, and after the shift. Remove any equipment that looks worn from use immediately to minimize the possibility of injury. Rural areas do not have the same medical support that urban areas offer.
- Set Expectations
It is important to set expectations for your employees when working in a rural area. This ensures that the work that needs to be done happens, especially if they are working remote from one another.
- Plan for Emergencies
Each rural job site should have its own emergency plan based on the type of work being performed, terrain, weather, and distance between workers. Each site should have this written down in a central location (see the rural shed above) and initialed to indicate understanding.
- Offer Constant Encouragement
Working in a rural area can make it difficult to maintain a motivated workforce, so make sure the time is taken to complement good work. Right along with setting expectations, encouragement makes the workers feel valuable and keeps them working hard.
Working in a rural area can have its pitfalls, but with a little advance planning, it is not that much different than working in urban areas. Take the time to truly understand the job, and planning takes little to no time at all.