Remote working for mining industry presents opportunities and drawbacks

12th October 2021

By: Tasneem Bulbulia

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online


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Travel company FCM Travel Solutions says that, by 2035, nearly 100% of mining employees are expected to be able to work remotely, from anywhere.

That presents exciting prospects for the mining industry, but there are also some significant drawbacks, it adds.

It notes that the adoption of off-site mining operations has seen traditional physical safety concerns overtaken by mental safety concerns. Studies have shown that remote work in the mining industry takes a mental toll on employees, with feelings of isolation and loneliness arising after the novelty of remote working wears off.

FCM adds that, while mining companies are trying to determine the best course of action for the future, travel management companies are preparing for a new form of business travel.

“Remote work doesn’t spell the end of business travel – it simply changes it. When a large part of the workforce becomes remote, there will be value in ‘on site retreats’ for the entire organisation, where employees gather to collaborate on high-value activities several times during the year.

“Complex projects, mergers and acquisitions and development opportunities will still require people to be on-the-ground,” says FCM GM Bonnie Smith.

To manage this new kind of business travel in the mining industry, a travel expert becomes an integral partner, FCM posits.

“Travel to remote locations has always been an obstacle in the mining sector and will continue to be so. Mining sites can be hazardous and difficult to access, rostering crew changes challenging, accommodation options limited and car hire problematic due to site regulations.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these challenges. Airlines have cut down routes to popular destinations, let alone remote mining destinations. Accommodation needs to be scrutinised more than ever before to ensure the right Covid protocols are in place. It is no longer a question of finding a hotel in a remote mining location, it’s finding a hotel or bed and breakfast that is completely Covid safe,” Smith explains.

New approval processes will need to be set up and travel policies need to be revamped to cater for a new reality, she notes.

“Companies need to go back to the drawing board when it comes to business travel. Which trips are essential? What can be handled remotely? Who gives the final approval for travel? And how do we need to book [flights and accommodation] to ensure we can safeguard and track employees if anything happens? All these questions are not new, but they will have answers that better fit in with a new reality.”

Working with a reliable travel management company can help mining companies navigate the complex new landscape of business travel, FCM posits.

“More than ever, mining companies need a travel expert partner who can look beyond the transaction at the bigger picture. At FCM, we use sophisticated technology systems, combined with human expertise, to crunch massive amounts of information to come up with solutions and travel strategies that fit your business,” Smith says.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online




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