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The Top 4 Remote Work Challenges in the Midstream Oil and Gas Sector

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Oil and gas are vital components of a dynamic economy. While the extraction process (upstream) is often debated and downstream activities receive significant attention due to their direct impact on consumers, midstream activities are not always a key focus. However, transporting raw materials from extraction sites to distribution centers is essential to meet the high demand. 

The midstream market was valued at $34 billion in 2023, and experts predict a 3.2% CAGR through 2029. TechSci Research adds, “Technological advancements in transportation and storage technologies have enhanced efficiency, safety, and environmental sustainability within the midstream segment attracting investments.” They also point to technological advancements as a key market driver. 

How Do You Manage a Remote Midstream Workforce? 

Let’s rewind a moment. The midstream stage involves transporting, storing, and processing raw materials. Those working in the midstream stage build and maintain pipelines or storage facilities. They often travel between worksites, which means the workforce is primarily remote. 

Managing a remote workforce in the midstream oil and gas sector presents several challenges. Here are some common issues that arise when managing a remote worksite. 

1. Communication and Coordination 

Good management requires effective and clear communication. This is no easy task when the whole company is under the same roof from 9 to 5. How can management effectively communicate with employees in remote locations who are also on the move?   

Some work environments feature employees in a private cubicle working on something unrelated to the person behind, in front of, and beside them. This is different for those working for midstream oil and gas companies.  

Communication and coordination between management and workers are essential, particularly during pipeline operations and maintenance. Limited connectivity in remote areas can hinder real-time communication, complicating the management and coordination of tasks. 

Poor communication is costly in terms of time and productivity. If team members do not work together, work slows down and negatively impacts quality.

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2. Safety and Compliance 

“Although OGE [oil and gas extraction] workers represent a small proportion of the U.S. workforce, these workers are consistently overrepresented in reports of work-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While this refers primarily to employees working in the upstream market, there are also potential safety hazards for staff working in midstream. 

Fulfilling the responsibility to keep employees safe is more challenging when managing remote workers. Management must ensure employees comply with industry regulations—even if supervisors are not physically present. Failure to follow regulations may lead to accidents, fines, and damaged reputations. 

3. Data Management and Integration 

Every business strives to be agile. In our 24/7 world, customers and the public expect quick decisions. Making good decisions requires having the facts and data. Otherwise, one is shooting in the dark. 

Similarly troublesome, businesses may not realize there are issues without data. This scenario is more likely to occur when dealing with a remote workforce. It’s nearly impossible to have a ‘feel’ for a situation when employees are scattered around at different worksites and on the move. So, data and other forms of communication are even more necessary. 

Scattered bits of data are nearly useless. Clearly delivered data helps management make better decisions. Yet, collecting and integrating data such as operational data, maintenance records, and compliance documentation from remote locations into central systems can be problematic. The lack of real-time data can delay responses to emerging issues and affect decision-making. 

4. Workforce Management 

Having the right employee in the proper position at the right time is imperative for success. Knowing who has the right skills, ability, attitude, etc., to handle a task doesn’t end after human resources says to a prospective employee, “You’re hired.” 

Putting people on a particular task also requires a ‘feel’ for the situation. Employees might feel, ‘I’m good,’ yet not be up to the moment or have the required certification level.  

Ensuring people have the right skills and are up to the task is a critical workforce decision. Without onsite supervisors who know the personnel and skill levels, it is much more difficult to station people in the position to succeed. 

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How Track Anywhere Helps with Your Remote Workforce  

Technology is often the solution to these challenges. Indeed, it plays a crucial role in managing remote worksites. Digital solutions like Track Anywhere offer real-time visibility and cost control, even in remote environments. 

Here are some of the key features and benefits of Track Anywhere: 

  • Proof of presence: View real-time information about workers on remote sites, including their skills, schedules, and exact locations.
  • Hours and cost tracking: Automatically calculate costs based on individual craftsman skills, hourly rates, work schedules, and other contractual terms.
  • Proactive site management: Gain insights into remote work activities for data-driven decision-making.
  • Virtual Gate: Capture contractor in/out events, including GPS coordinates and worker location validation. Virtual gate also allows remote workers to enter notes and take pictures in the field to communicate additional information on their time working and the work being completed to management.
  • Kiosk: Provide badging capability for workers in locations without access control or gate systems, including GPS coordinates and worker location validation. The Kiosk can also be used for mustering events to record who has checked into the muster area and see who is missing.

Midstream companies can rely on Track Anywhere to accurately track contractor hours and costs, ensuring compliance with contract terms. Additionally, this technology enhances safety and task assignment efficiency for foremen. 

The midstream oil market continues to grow, and effective management of remote workforces is essential. To learn more about our workforce management technology,  visit us here.

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