Mobile app powers rapid response to Hurricane Harvey relief
Hurricane Harvey brought widespread flooding and devastation to Houston in 2017, and Aggreko’s employees based in the city were impacted too.
Our professional services were in high demand, busy with disaster recovery efforts not only for the greater Houston area, but also our colleagues in need. Volunteer offers from both operational and office-based workforce were abundant; but it was becoming overwhelming to track, manage and communicate what was needed, and who was available.
Our team was already in the process of rolling out Guidebook, an app developed for use in our Aggreko learning programs, and with so many components in place, we got creative: Could we use its existing mobile platform to quickly mobilize employees’ relief efforts?
Yes, it could! And so, the “Be Together Houston” app was born.
Rapid innovation, rapid response
There was plenty to consider making sure we could optimize relief efforts. How many employees were affected? Who’s available to volunteer? What kind of help is needed?
The “Eureka!” moment came when our Global Learning & Talent Technologies Manager, Walter Davis, was speaking with Greg Mitchell, Aggreko’s Technician Programs Manager, about how to volunteer. Since both were already familiar with the Guidebook platform
and how useful it is for learning, they realized it would be easy to create a new app for disaster relief.
In just three days, they were off and running with a live app. After our team sent out an internal email communication with steps to download the app and the password setup, the Be Together Houston app started to populate employee phones.
Guidebook allowed Aggreko to keep all logistics in a single app: dates and times for volunteer activities, volunteer sign-up, transportation logistics to different locations, and
more. At a glance, people could see volunteer opportunities, what to bring, along with time and place, like meeting at an employee’s home to remove drywall.
According to Mitchell, who led the relief and recovery efforts employees: “The Be Together Houston app created an easy to use platform that allowed me to organize the volunteers in a very efficient way.”
Employees created a “web view” in the app from the existing web page form, and enabled donations to those affected directly from the app.
Our team moved past outdated mass email communication and started to engage in a brand-new way. Interact, Guidebook’s in-app social feed, was full of pictures, as our employees shared their experiences helping each other.
“Teams really came together,” said Davis. “Even though it was a difficult state to be in, we were heartened by the positive messages in the Interact feed and could see all the good coming out of it.”
Extending app content to global communications
One outcome of the app was capturing such a wealth of eyewitness stories and images, which we used to promote and showcase the great work done to the 200 offices in nearly 100 countries that Aggreko operates in.
The app helped everyone keep communications up, find out how those affected were faring and help those in other areas understand what was being done to help people in the aftermath of the storm. It also provided updates for those employees around the world who wanted to help with donations or in sending well wishes, all in keeping with our true “Be Together” spirit.
Tapping into Training
By combining disaster recovery skills with the Learning Team’s familiarity with Guidebook, Mitchell and his colleagues added a unique training element to the relief efforts. Within the Be Together Houston app they offered courses on how to make home repairs.
When a colleague hosted a course for a specific skill, like how to remove or hang dry wall, details were shared on when and where it was happening via Guidebook. Schedules could be viewed, and courses could be signed up for directly in the app. The app also allowed employees to sign up friends and family members to participate in these trainings.
Aggreko’s Learning Center became the emergency response headquarters during the relief efforts and the mobile app the center of it all – a powerful tool to help everyone unite and learn while helping the community recover.
Using mobile tech to live our values
One of Aggreko’s core values is to “Be Together,” asking the best of each other, harnessing our scale and diverse skills to grow stronger together. Thanks to Guidebook, our team was able to quickly react and innovate, and most importantly, show how those values really are a part of what we do.
It’s reassuring to know we have a great mobile tool available to help us ‘Be Together’ in these situations. We were there for our people and our people were there for each other.