Juggling emergencies, customer appointments and the needs of 60 appliance service technicians turned out to be good training for David Guest when he was asked to start working from home due to the pandemic.
“I have three little kids at home, and I thought it would be a little crazy … I guess dispatching is a little crazy,” said Guest, a Clifton Gas dispatcher. “Working from home turned out to be a real silver lining. I have a lot more time in my day without my commute, and I get to spend it with my family.”
Guest is one of 61 PSE&G Gas Operations dispatchers who now rotate weeks at a time between working in the office and working at home to ensure all service calls are properly assigned, while following state protocols regarding emergency dispatches and COVID-19 safety protocols. On any given day, 65% of dispatch personnel are working from home — supporting approximately 800 technicians.
The job of a dispatcher is to help align available technicians with customer service requests and to efficiently, and effectively, dispatch arising emergencies such as gas line damages, gas leaks, carbon monoxide calls and fires. They must factor in issues such as distance from one job to the next, schedules and required skills.
“It’s a close-knit group,” added Guest. “We all get along, and we can work through anything and figure it out.”
In early March as managers planned for the pandemic, the question of relocating dispatchers while still meeting state requirements arose.
“It became a challenge,” said Northern Dispatch Supervisor Raymond McCool. “We pulled all the strings and started to work tirelessly day and night to implement the work from home project for our dispatchers.”
PSE&G worked to get the first group of dispatchers the computer and phone equipment they needed to set up home shops. By April, more dispatchers joined in what some hope will become a new business model.
Guest said he enjoys working from home and, because the Clifton team camaraderie is great, he doesn’t feel he misses much when he’s not in the office. Some other dispatchers said they miss daily in-person interactions and find it easier to troubleshoot in the office.
“Working from home is no easy task,” said Dispatch Senior Supervisor Jody Bellenger, “but the team is making it happen every day, providing technicians and customers top service … and that is something I am proud of. I am equally proud of those working in the office around the clock to support our emergency response and essential work for our customers.”