What the energy industry still needs to learn about its people
In a Formula 1 race, the difference between winning and losing often comes down to the tyres.
Engineers at the side of the track are precision trained to make strategic decisions on the spot – changing tyres in seconds to give drivers the best chance of success. But it isn’t just about speed. It’s about working seamlessly together for months before the race begins – planning their strategy using historical data and computer simulations, and even developing their own language to collaborate as effectively as possible. Such innovations have allowed engineers to continually enhance their approach – taking the average time down from 11 seconds in the early 1980s to under 3 seconds today.
Fuelling a collaborative working culture
Culture is key to success in business just as it is in racing – and many organisations are starting to realise it. Earlier this year, for example, The Wall Street Journal reported that Elon Musk plans to build a town for his Tesla, Boring and SpaceX workers to live in. Although his approach has been criticised by many – employees would be paying Musk rent, and they would have just 30 days to vacate their homes if they left the company – they are indicative of an exciting shift: towards treating our people not as a workforce, but as a community.
This is a trend I’ve noticed emerging for some time – but it’s still being missed by many leading energy industry players. Before I joined Aira, I was engaged in family businesses in Italy for 11 years. In these businesses, the experience of working as part of a close-knit community made them not only feel a greater sense of belonging, but also work more productively and collaboratively.
I have continued to apply this community-focused mindset to my leadership responsibilities at Aira. The organisations we are acquiring and working with in Italy are family-owned – led by entrepreneurs who have nurtured their companies over two or three generations. By building a culture in which everyone feels heard, included and valued, we will help our people to thrive and work more effectively together.
This is only set to become more important as the next generation enters the workplace. Younger workers tend to be more community-minded than their older colleagues, demanding flexibility and transparency around social issues from their employers. This presents a significant opportunity for businesses in the energy sector: to enhance the experiences they provide to their employees while ensuring that their purpose remains at the heart of their operations.
Introducing the installer of tomorrow
Just as workers are expecting more from their employers, consumers are becoming increasingly obsessed with the purchase journey, seeking a seamless and enjoyable experience from research to conversion. Delivering on consumers’ evolving expectations will be critical to helping more people join the clean energy-tech revolution.
The role of the installer in the customer journey is often misunderstood or undervalued by the heat pump manufacturers - most of them use third party technicians working with multiple brands, giving them no control over the installation experience. We have consciously moved away from this by creating our own community of technicians and training them in our Aira Academy to become best-in-class.
We want our technicians to be like the engineers at the side-lines of Formula 1 races – experts in their field who work seamlessly and intuitively with their colleagues to achieve outstanding results. But we also believe strongly in the importance of soft skills. Our technicians are the face of our company, spending two to three days inside our customers’ homes. It's important that they are not only efficient and knowledgeable, but also sharp, polite and personable.
Winning the race for a sustainable world
The recent energy crisis made many people realise they take it for granted that they can control the temperature of their homes and that hot water comes out of their shower when they need it. Suddenly, we began to ask ourselves: Where does energy come from? And what impact is it having on the environment?
I’ve always been passionate about sustainability. But since joining Aira, I have become acutely aware of the role of clean energy-tech in securing a better future for our children. I'm proud of the part I am playing in that mission, by building Aira’s business in Italy to replace gas boilers with heat pumps – reducing CO2 emissions and helping people save money.
By including our people in our journey – and by creating the best possible experience for our customers – we are changing the tyres of the energy industry and helping to steer it towards a more sustainable future.
Passionate about clean energy-tech and making a difference to the planet? Join us here
From Mats Ulriksson, Aira CEO, Italy