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Service Bubbles: The Next Line of Defense for Track and Trace – Part 1

As businesses around the world begin to resume operations amid COVID-19 restrictions, so-called “social bubbles” could be an option to slow infections from the virus within your organization.

A social bubble is an informal network among friends or family who agree to take precautions only against the outside world, not among each other. Social bubbles have been successfully implemented in a number of countries to enable small groups of people to interact freely whilst observing social distancing and isolation measures with the general population. In the fight against COVID-19, they provide two key benefits:

  • For individuals, it reduces the risk of infection.
  • For society, it contains an infection spread to within members of the bubble. 

Track and Trace enable authorities to identify the people that someone who tests positive for COVID-19 has been in close contact with and to instruct those individuals to go into self-isolation and to be tested.

So, what does Track and Trace have to do with field service and my service organization? 

At the heart of field service is the delivery of services to customers either at commercial facilities, private homes, or in open public locations. All these locations means they have a higher propensity to come into close contact with someone that is infected with COVID-19. The risks are:

  • They may become infected with COVID 19 and their Track and Trace investigation will include other team members in your organization and customers.
  • A customer becomes infected and the field resources that have been in close contact with them are identified in the results of their Track and Trace investigation.

It is therefore inevitable that your field resources may have to self-isolate. 

The question now is how can you reduce the number of field resources that have to self-isolate at any one time thereby minimizing the impact of this new threat to your business?

Using service bubbles for Track and Trace

First, it’s important to recognize the measures you are taking are important for the safety of your employees, customers and the general public and must continue.

As social bubbles reduce the risks to individuals and the impact of infection to society, they also have the same effect of reducing the risks to your individual field resources and minimizing the impact of infection to your organization. That’s because the number of individual resources that would be identified in a Track and Trace investigation are reduced.

A service bubble is characterized as a small self-contained group of field resources and customers who do not physically interact with team members or customers from other service bubbles. Once established, your service organization would transform from large service areas serviced by large teams of resources to many smaller service bubbles. This organizational structure creates the level of resilience your organization requires to mitigate the worst impacts of Track and Trace requirements to isolate your field resources.

Using service bubbles in all parts of your business

There are other elements that go into creating an effective Service bubble.

Use fixed crews or teams rather than dynamic ones so the same field resources work together. If a position has to be backfilled, use a single field resource rather than one from another crew. This minimizes the impact if a crew member tests positive to just one team and possibly one other field resource. 

Allocate specialist equipment or vehicles to individuals or crews rather than using a pool option. If you have to swap, then ensure they are disinfected and or placed in quarantine for a minimum of 72 hours.

Back office staff including managers, dispatchers and call handlers should also form service bubbles and consider home/remote working as a way to further reduce the outlined risks and effects. 

In Closing

Service bubbles are a temporary way to reduce the threat that Track and Trace presents to your business. Once the virus is eradicated business can return to its previous configuration and procedures. However, the service bubble should become part of your organizational disaster recovery and operational resilience arsenal that can be enabled in case there is another pandemic. 

Establishing and managing an effective service bubble operation can be difficult if you do not have a modern applications and technology. In Part 2 of this Blog I will outline how this can be easily achieved using FieldAware’s standard Field Service Management application.