A competitive team of Shell employees gathered using VR support

How Remote Work and VR Support Competitive Teams

By Don Kyle on Mar 23, 2020

As a sales supervisor, my role is to manage, mentor, and lead internal teams to meet our customers’ requirements. I like to win, and I enjoy helping others to win -- whether that’s a new catalyst sale, beating a deadline, or overcoming a daily obstacle presented in life or work.

So, over the years Shell has undertaken an annual survey of its employees that measures levels of engagement, motivation, affiliation, and commitment to Shell. We always like to see improvement in every area of the survey, no matter where we are starting from. Of course, when our teams are engaged and motivated our customers benefit.

Encouraging Remote Work for Work-Life Balance

When I took on the sales supervisory responsibilities in 2014, I could see that we needed to eliminate unnecessary practices and achieve better work-life balances. We had too great of a burden related to administrative matters and our team could not rely on their off time as being their own.

The team and I accepted the challenge to make improvements. We simplified processes, built templates for common work, shared and implemented ideas to cover for those away on vacation, and encouraged teammates to put family life first.

After these initial improvements, we encouraged people to work from home more, especially after they’d been traveling all week. I also placed more people in home-based offices than anyone had done in the past.

The team met regularly to review improvement opportunities. We rewarded constructive criticism and reminded one another that discovering and accepting our flaws was necessary in order to improve.

We have come a long way and we are better equipped to share our engagement, motivation, and commitment with our customers.

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Preparing Strong Teams for Future Innovations

I’m motivated by the many opportunities at Shell Catalysts & Technologies to be my best and to work with others who want to be their best too. Supporting both internal teams and external stakeholders are foundational to address the challenges in the industry.

A current challenge we’ve been faced with is how many of our customers order products for delivery during periods when customer demand outstrips our supply capability. From my experience gathering and analyzing future sales data, I’m able to quickly provide accurate data and guidance that the team has confidence in.

In regards to future industry developments, I think virtual reality is a technology that will impact refinery customers all over the world. VR will especially impact the areas where it’s difficult to get manpower resources to quickly.

Most of our customers value having us on-site when they have problems or when they are loading catalysts. When the customer is a plane ride away, however, we can’t always be there as quickly as they need us. The recent challenges caused by COVID-19 makes this even more obvious.

I’ve seen VR prototypes that will enable our subject matter experts to connect with customers as quickly as making a phone call. These VR prototypes will allow us to immerse ourselves in the problem immediately. I see VR as enabling us to experience the customers’ problems remotely so we can resolve their issues in real time.

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Retirement and Reflecting on Fun

After 33 years at Shell, I’m preparing to retire. I’ve been reflecting on how this was not the industry I expected to work in when I first chose a profession. Rather, it was where I found myself years ago when I realized my career in the coal mining industry may be a short one.

I chose to work for Shell because I believe the company truly values its employees and takes action to show it. I’ve tried to do my work well and exceed everyone’s expectations. I hope to retire and look back with those I’ve worked with and say, “We did well, and we had fun doing it!”

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