Other than working from home, it’s business as usual for members of OUC’s Electric and Water Distribution team. Which is to say, they haven’t noticed any disruption to construction or other projects during the coronavirus-related economic slowdown.
In other words, they’re still very busy.
“There’s been no drop-off in requests for service,” says Orlando Alancastro, Director of Electric and Water Distribution. “We’re still just as busy and active as we were before Florida businesses closed.”
This doesn’t come as a surprise to Alancastro, who is working from home in Oviedo. He says the 2008 economic slump didn’t immediately impact his team either. It could take more than six months before his team sees the economic impact of the pandemic, he adds. What came as a surprise — and a nice one at that — was his co-workers’ adaptability to the sudden change in their daily regimens.
“There’s been little to no disruption in our ability to get work done,” he says. “What’s interesting about all this is how quickly everyone was able to pick up their stuff and go home and almost seamlessly resume their jobs.”
Of course, technology had a lot to do with the smooth transition. Everything from face-to-face meetings to document approvals can be done with desktop and mobile apps. Alancastro points to the shift to process work orders electronically and use of an electronic signatures app as changes he’d like to see stay in place post-COVID-19.
“This event certainly forced people to be more technology savvy,” he says. “We’re fully leveraging the technologies that were in place before the pandemic but we didn’t see the need to take advantage of. Now we do.”
Senior Engineering Associates Steve Grubbs and Mike Galloway can attest to the benefits of technology as they keep up with water and electric distribution projects.
“Since we have access to all this technology, ways to download and upload plans, it’s pretty seamless on the engineering side,” says Grubbs, who focuses on water distribution related to road construction and Orlando International Airport’s expansion project. “Customers are getting the same level of service.”
Grubbs says he has not had to leave his New Smyrna Beach home to make field visits but has had to travel an hour-and-a-half to Pershing on occasion to make large printouts of project plans.
“I’m not looking forward to resuming a daily commute,” he says, “but I do miss seeing my colleagues.”
Galloway, however, is anxious to get back into the office. At his home in Orlando’s Conway neighborhood, only a few minutes from Pershing, he shares a dining room table with his working wife and daughter, who like so many college students had to leave school.
“There are four monitors on the table. I walk out to the patio to take phone calls so I don’t disturb anyone,” he says as background noise of chirping birds proves he’s no longer indoors.
Galloway says his work on large electric infrastructure projects in Lake Nona and St. Cloud takes him out into the field two to three times a week. There he meets with construction contractors, consultants and OUC line crews — from a safe distance, of course.
“A lot of the projects I work on need eyes on them,” he says. “And getting out of the house is a nice break, too.”