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A Mobile Connection in the Arctic

Ever been to or heard of the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field on the North Slope of Alaska? To be honest, I hadn’t until a few months ago. But recently, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to make the 4,481 mile trek from NYC to the North Slope.

As the largest oil field in North America, Prudhoe Bay lies approximately 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle and is “home” to several thousand workers at any given time. Other than oil rigs, ice roads and a few polar bears, very little else exists except for endless vistas of snow covered tundra.

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You might ask why anyone would consider visiting this cold, dark and remote place in January. The answer is simple–to deploy an app of course! As a recent subscriber to theEMPLOYEEapp, ASRC Energy Services asked for a little help introducing its new, native mobile app to their many employees who service the BP and ConocoPhillips oil facilities.

As one might suspect, there are no telephone poles installed in the tundra–most people are dependent on wireless carriers and satellite systems to communicate. What I learned is that when new oil facilities are built on the North Slope, one of the first things to be installed on a site is a cellular tower. This allows the crews to keep in touch with each other and the rest of the world. It also lends itself quite nicely to the use of a mobile, communications solution like theEMPLOYEEapp.

Given the rapid proliferation of mobile technology and increased connectivity, almost every ASRC employee has their own smart device. Having an app on these devices now allows the company’s employees to remain connected, not only when they are working in these remote locations, but also when they have time off (the typical ASRC employee spends two weeks working on the Slope and then has two weeks off). From ASRC’s perspective, being able to communicate during the “off period” is especially critical in maintaining a high level of employee engagement.

Both ASRC and its employees were excited to learn of the capabilities that their new app offered them. theEMPLOYEEapp allows them to have immediate access to benefit and payroll information so they don’t have to wait until they go home to access this information from a desktop computer. Since the app can play the role of a mobile intranet, they now have the ability to access large and heavy manuals for emergencies and training purposes that they otherwise would have to lug around with them. And, since the CEO is based in Anchorage, it provides him with the ability to shoot videos and audio recordings that can then be “pushed” directly to his employees, allowing him to maintain a personal connection with the individuals who work so hard, day-in and day-out, for the benefit of the company that he runs.

This is the beauty of theEMPLOYEEapp solution.

My trip to the North Slope of Alaska was an experience of a lifetime. After traveling almost 10,000 miles round-trip and speaking with a few hundred front line employees, I have a brand new respect for the challenges of communicating with a workforce that is truly remote. I also have a totally different perspective on the value of having a mobile, internal communications solution that allows an organization to connect, share and engage with its employees on their personal mobile devices. And while I am looking forward to making a return trip, I have to admit that I hope my next visit is during the Summer.

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