A Refresh to Gemstone’s Guiding Values
Fresh Values & a Fresh Perspective
In late 2020, the leadership team at Gemstone Logistics decided it was time to revisit our core values. Our previous values had been the building blocks of Gemstone for nine years and served us well. However, everything from our teams to our offerings have evolved dramatically over the past couple of years, and even more so in recent months. As a result, that original set of values wasn’t serving us as precisely as it had in the past. We knew that in order to continue to evolve under the guidance of strong values, we needed a complete refresh.
We unveiled a new mission statement, vision statement, and core values in January of 2021:
Our mission is to bring harmony, efficiency, and balance to workforce projects around the globe.
Our vision is to be recognized globally as the irrefutable leaders and partners for change on workforce projects, delivering superior technology and expert advice.
Putting Customers First: Our clients are at the heart of our business and we will meet or exceed their expectations at every opportunity.
Living Above the Line: We know when to take ownership, accountability and responsibility and will do so, regardless of the outcome.
Embracing Diversity: We are proud to have Gems with diverse backgrounds and will always promote inclusivity.
Delivering Courageous Innovation: We will be curious and inquisitive in the pursuit of enhancing our products, services and relationships.
Enabling Growth: We will help our Gems grow professionally and ensure they are happy at work by fostering a respectful, empowering and fun environment.
Giving Thanks: We will live in gratitude for our opportunities and be authentic and vulnerable with our Gems and clients.
Our leadership team came together in December of 2020 to create our new guiding principles. Initially, we wanted to understand which characteristics and actions were currently serving our teams and clients best. At the same time, we felt it was important to connect our values with our vision for the future so that they could lead us forward in a positive direction.
Harmony, efficiency, and balance were other factors we looked at when we sat down to review the values. Since setting out our original values many years ago, Gemstone Logistics has expanded our reach, our team, and our solutions. We wanted our new guiding principles to be able to apply to the diverse teams, clients, software solutions, and service locations that make up the company today.
We also knew as we worked toward creating them that if our core values were too abstract, they would be difficult to apply to our daily work. Our goal was to create a set of ideals that would be guideposts for every Gem, allowing them to measure their actions against them and know whether they were in alignment with those values. We didn’t simply want to put them up on the wall and forget about them; we wanted them to be practical, relevant, and realistic so that we could apply them to every project, client, collaboration, communication, and idea.
Living Our Values at Every Opportunity
There are endless opportunities to instill our values in our daily work, but taking advantage of those opportunities requires keeping them top of mind. To do this, we start our leadership meetings (and many other meetings) with a values moment. This is a time when we can share examples of how they are being used by team members and the positive impact they have on everyone in our sphere.
Communicating with others nearly always provides an opportunity to showcase our values, whether it’s in the way we communicate or the content of our communications. For example, our monthly Gem Gathering is structured around the values. This helps put our work into context and keep them in mind as we work throughout the month.
We also understand that working according to a set of values this specific can be a challenge at times, which is why we feel it’s important to recognize those above-and-beyond instances where someone brings them to life. Our monthly Gem Awards turn the spotlight on someone who has exemplified them in their work. Each award winner is selected based on nominations by other Gems, which gives us opportunities to look for examples and lead by example.
A Simple Transition
One marker that tells us the values we chose are well aligned with the company is how seamlessly they work together in real-life situations. For example, we often deliver courageous innovation by trying new ideas, features, and solutions. However, when we try something and it doesn’t work, we are the first to take ownership and make it right for our clients. It’s easy to spot everyday examples like this that draw on two or more of the values.
As with any process at Gemstone Logistics, our values are a collaborative effort that reflected the thoughts, ideas, and feelings of our team members and leaders. The result was that the announcement came with very little surprise; each of us was already living these to some degree in our daily work. We will continue to do so at every opportunity, looking to our values to light the path forward.
Seamless Virtual Team Collaboration: A Three-Pronged Approach to Virtual Work
Transitioning to Online Tools
Although our two Gemstone Logistics locations in Sherwood Park have been quiet as we continue to work from home, everyone is busier than ever thanks to our continued growth over the past year. Our team members aren’t buzzing around the office and dropping by other Gems’ desks quite yet, but they are managing to stay up to date by communicating and working on projects virtually.
Like any business in the COVID-19 era, we have had to pivot our day-to-day work online and this hasn’t come without some challenges. However, our teams came into the pandemic with two main advantages. First, as a technology-focused organization, we already had many of the systems and tools in place for virtualized work. Second, we have strategically hired true Gems who are willing to adapt to new situations.
Despite all the advantages, we did need to implement and train Gems to use several tools very quickly and have been using them since.
The Three Challenges
The challenges that have come with transitioning to virtual work have been threefold. The main processes affected by moving away from in-person work were:
- Project management
Our team adopted an all-in-one virtual communication tool right away to replace all of the meetings, chats, calls, and collaboration that an in-person workday would normally involve. The tool is very versatile and includes video, voice, document collaboration, and a team chat app.
Our internal teams were focused on finding ways to maintain an ongoing dialogue that mimics those fluid workplace desk drop-ins and collaborations that the physical space of a workplace provides. There aren’t opportunities to walk up to someone’s desk and quickly work out a problem, or even to sit down with someone to collaborate directly on a project. To bridge this gap, many of our teams keep a virtual chat open throughout the day. It’s a tool that has brought them as close as possible to direct collaboration. In addition to bringing up questions or ideas as they arise, teams can easily screenshare and work on items simultaneously.
Although chat features have filled in many of the spaces in our day-to-day communications, one remaining challenge is the loss of auditory and visual cues. Our teams quickly remembered how much the tone of a message can change the content of a message. To make sure nothing was missed, we committed to meeting via virtual conferencing tools whenever possible. Many of our teams have impromptu video chats throughout the day, and many others have set daily meetings to stay up to date on projects and just to ask about each other’s weekends, families, and wellbeing.
Although our internal communication software was serving us well because we used it consistently, some of our teams found the tool wasn’t always accessible to all clients. As a result, some teams chose different and more simplified tools to reach out to clients. Others have preferred to keep everything in one place, and, at the end of the day, everyone has the flexibility to choose what works best for them.
Once virtual communications were taken care of, it presented our next challenge, which was time management and scheduling. Planning specific time for project work and communications in advance had become more important than ever. Working hours had changed due to added responsibilities at home, and sometimes even a five-minute chat needed to be marked down on a calendar to make sure everyone was available and in the right place.
We quickly implemented calendar sharing to help us align our schedules easily for meetings. This allows us to see everyone’s availability and work hours, so we can spend less time setting up meetings and more time meeting!
Project Management Tools
Our digital project management tools were already well-established before March of 2020 sent us all to our home offices. However, we relied on them more heavily for even the smallest projects and processes.
Project management tools have been especially important in executing and implementing projects. As Woren Braidwood, one of our support desk analysts, points out, aligning project work has been a challenge in the virtual world. Passing work from one person to another to ensure everyone’s expertise has been applied is difficult when you can’t shuffle papers onto someone’s desk. However, it has been made easier with an all-in-one system that allows team members to comment, share documents, and tag one another. This has led to more refined step-by-step processes and, in some cases, has even created more efficiencies than before.
Our Tools & Teams
There are many types of tools available, but nothing quite matches the human component of technology. From the outset, Gems participated in other meetings to learn what fellow team members were using in terms of software, tools, and strategies. This has also helped them stay up to date with other team members and be flexible with scheduling meetings. Thanks to regular communication, any minor glitches in technology have been sorted out quickly.
Now that most of the Gemstone team has finally gotten used to the work-from-home routine, there’s a chance that we’ll be moving back into the office very soon. However, the virtual project management and communication skills we built through this time will carry through into the future. In fact, despite the challenges of the year, Gemstone has been able to continue building a great team, even at a distance, thanks to virtual training!
Powerful New Global Technology Partnership to Streamline Workforce Operational Needs
BRISBANE, 7th June 2021 – IONYX and Gemstone Logistics today announce a disruptive joint offering set to revolutionise complex logistic processes within the resource and construction sectors.
The companies currently service an impressive array of clients, including AGL, Rio Tinto, BHP, Petroleum Development Oman, Canadian Natural, Aramark, and Compass Group, to name a few. Existing and future clients will have access to a shared suite of parallel state-of-the-art digital solutions and user-centric creative services focused on personnel journey and travel requirements, project control and online procurement.
Gemstone Logistics CEO, Tom McHale explained “We’re thrilled to come together to offer an optimal mix of off-the-shelf and custom software capabilities to make things easier, faster and more cost-effective for our global stable of clients.”
“We found ourselves bidding on similar contracts, and in doing so recognised that we both had gaps that could be complemented by each other,” Mr. McHale said.
“Collaboration breeds innovation and excellence, and our companies are driven to be global tech leaders through the delivery of world-class products and services.”
The multi-year partnership agreement includes access to Gemstone Logistics web tools ILLUMYS, CIRYS and CampWare, as well as IONYX apps Journey Management System (JMS), Fly2Work and Online Procurement Services (OPS).
ILLUMYS is an efficient and effective project control management system that provides timely and accurate labour, equipment and material reporting.
CIRYS is an intuitive reservation and reporting tool for workforce travel and accommodation, allowing users to book flights, ground transportation and rooms.
CampWare is an end-to-end accommodation management solution, handling challenges such as guest management, housekeeping, invoicing, security, food services, and client reporting.
Fly2Work is a fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) travel management system allowing users to view real-time manifests, submit bookings, receive itineraries, and be notified of emergencies on the go.
JMS is a journey management system that gives companies visibility of their people on the road; helping staff reach their destinations safely through IVMS integration, GPS tracking, and verbal and SMS notifications.
OPS is a single system for supply chain needs, facilitating procurement best practice by managing supplier documentation and ordering and payment processes, as well as providing detailed reporting for intelligent decision making.
IONYX Director, James Kelly explained: “There was no single fully integrated offering available to manage a workforce’s operational needs from end to end, while simultaneously reducing manual repetitive office processes.”
“IONYX and Gemstone Logistics share the same philosophy, culture and entrepreneurial outlook, so bringing together our comprehensive enterprise capabilities made sense – we are a natural fit as partners,” Mr. Kelly said.
The suite of platforms will be available by one consolidated, easy-to-use interface with 24-hour servicing support spanning time zones across Australia, Canada, China, the Philippines, and the UK.
The future of the partnership is shaping up to be bright as IONYX and Gemstone Logistics work together to unlock greater potential for their clients, as well as expand into adjacent sectors. An IATA-accredited travel agency to manage more of the supply chain is already in the works.
IONYX Director, James Kelly and Gemstone Logistics President, Ross Purdie are both available for comment.
+61 400 000 588
IONYX is an Australian-based tech organisation headquartered in Brisbane. Its journey started in 2011 with a mission to automate business processes and remove the inefficiency of paperwork in the Coal Seam Gas industry. Today, IONYX is a market leader in the development of innovative and custom software, apps and systems to increase productivity and communication in the fields of oil and gas, mining and renewables. IONYX’S solutions – most notably JMS, Fly2Work and OPS – are used every day by organisations across the globe, including several Fortune 500 companies.
Learn more about IONYX, JMS, Fly2Work, and OPS.
ABOUT GEMSTONE LOGISTICS
Gemstone Logistics is a Canadian-based organisation headquartered in Alberta. Ever since CEO, Tom McHale implemented Canada’s first successful fly-in-fly-out program in 2005, the company has been highly respected for finding cost-effective and inventive solutions to industry-wide challenges. Among these noteworthy systems are CIRYS, CampWare and ILLUMYS. With a focus on management of industrial construction projects and travel and remote accommodation logistics, Gemstone Logistics is trusted by some of the biggest names in oil and gas, mining, hydro, LNG, and construction.
Learn more about Gemstone Logistics, CIRYS, CampWare, and ILLUMYS.
Maintaining Work/Life Balance While Parenting During COVID
Balancing Homeschooling with Work
Since last March, everyone at Gemstone has had to work a little harder to balance their work with personal responsibilities. For those of our Gems who are parents, that challenge has been particularly daunting. Being thrown in and out of homeschooling, balancing meetings with childcare, and still trying to keep up with our rapid pace of growth at Gemstone this year has been a true feat.
From the Classroom to the Conference Room
Despite being at home, many parents have felt like they are running back and forth between different buildings. Dalinda, one of our support desk analysts, finds herself drawn from work to kindergarten classes and back again throughout the day. As a result, she has had to get in the routine of prepping everything for her daughter’s class before it begins, allowing her to get straight into her workday. Other Gem parents have been following that same routine, prepping anything from lunches to activities the day before to minimize distractions.
For older kids, the story is different. It’s not schoolwork that has been difficult; it’s trying to entertain older kids who just want to socialize and do their normal after-school activities. Some parents have made a few concessions to help their older kids and teens feel connected and happy, like being extra lenient with screen time.
Careful scheduling is another way Gem parents are making room for everything in their busier-than-ever lives. Chioma, a support desk analyst at Gemstone, makes time for the most important work activities first thing in the morning. That way, if she gets busy with the kids later, the most pressing tasks are already done and everything else can wait until the evening. Nisha, a junior developer here at Gemstone, has scheduled certain times for school, work, activities, and exercise, allowing her to focus on one thing at a time.
Rachelle on Working from Home with Kids
Rachelle is one Gem who has been navigating a challenging work-from-home situation from the beginning. Rachelle’s family has had to be extra cautious due to her asthma, which has led to plenty of time spent at home.
When schools closed in March of last year, Rachelle was suddenly a homeschool teacher in addition to being an implementation coordinator at Gemstone. Since schools were not prepared for the shutdown, there was very little guidance and the educational materials being used were outdated and hard to follow. Rachelle describes those early months as “having three kids sitting beside me as I was working and trying to get them to complete a PDF multiplication table from 1981.”
Luckily, September to April has been simpler. Although Rachelle’s kids continued their schooling from home, teachers, parents, and kids alike were more prepared this time around. Interactive online classrooms have given Rachelle a bit more breathing room and the ability to balance her workday. The biggest challenge has been making sure the kids stay engaged and present – after all, the teacher can’t see what they are up to and there are plenty of distractions!
Over the past year, Rachelle and her family have picked up on ways to stay sane and continue to be team players, even while they spend all of their time together. This was a challenge in the colder winter months, but they managed it by turning on some great dance tunes and having dance parties in the kitchen. As the weather improves, getting outside for physical activities regularly has been easier. In fact, Rachelle has even planned out times for recess. One of her kids will occasionally slip her a note during a meeting to ask if they can go outside for recess.
Making the Best of It
Although COVID has required some sacrifices, major changes, and extra challenges, the Gemstone Logistics team has been very adaptable. Until we return to normal activities, everyone is doing the best they can in a strange time. We are proud of how our team has been able to step up over this incredibly busy year and continue to develop personally and professionally!
Gemstone Logistics Year in Review: 2020
A Year for the History Books
Like most businesses, 2020 was an interesting blend of challenges and wins for us at Gemstone Logistics. What made all the difference for us was having a team we could count on to do more than just weather the storm; our Gems turned challenges into wins and stayed strong even when personal and professional obstacles seemed to come from all sides. Let’s take a quick look at how it all started, how we wrapped it up, and what we expect in 2021 for our growing team.
A Start Like Any Other
We always expect a slow-down around the holiday season as projects and operations go into “maintenance” mode and workers head home to spend quality time with their families. However, springtime is often busy, with lots of movement in the industries we serve. Thanks to new developments in our solutions, upcoming clients, and our global expansion, we had projected an incredibly busy and rewarding year at Gemstone in 2020.
However, like most businesses, those plans were railroaded just a couple of months into the year as COVID-19 began to shut down much of the country.
Within days of the sudden restrictions, many of our clients had to pivot to deal with new realities. They laid off people, kept office staff working from home, or kept their employees on site for longer durations to minimize travel during this initial period. Although we worked hard to support our clients throughout these sudden shifts, it ultimately led to a significant decrease in the need for travel and accommodation management.
Available commercial flights dropped drastically and chartered flights stopped service practically overnight. The entire industry experienced this turbulence, from travel agents to airlines and shuttle services to hotels and accommodations. Although millions of dollars are usually spent on travel and flights during this time, most travel agencies in Canada ended the second quarter posting negative sales due to the high number of cancelled and refunded bookings.
Keeping Workers Travelling
Spring was spent trying to keep up with changes for our clients, our business, and shifting to working from home. However, the summer months offered a bit of respite for the Gemstone team. Lower rates of COVID-19 transmission allowed our clients to move more of their people back into place on worksites. Our small but mighty travel agency, Gemstone Travel, shifted from cancelling and rearranging flights back to booking them.
By the end of 2020, we had doubled the national average in terms of sales by Canadian travel agencies and managed to maintain the same level of bookings that we had achieved in 2019. Although it wasn’t the projected growth for 2020 that we had originally anticipated for Gemstone Travel, it still represented a huge win in a year when virtually all movement across Canada slowed exponentially.
Growing Our Team During a Pandemic
Despite the slow-down and the complications that arrived alongside COVID-19, our team grew in strength, structure, and numbers during 2020. In a time when most businesses were cutting staff, we were able to make significant organizational shifts that allowed us to define growth avenues, promote internally and create positions for new Gems.
The cherry on top came when Gemstone Logistics was recognized as a top employer in Canada by The Globe and Mail. Although it’s very meaningful to be recognized by an organization like The Globe and Mail, it was even more meaningful because these awards are based entirely on feedback from employees. It’s great to know that our Gems really feel like Gems!
Transition and Development
Being a tech company, it would have been a little strange if our transition to working from home hadn’t gone well. Luckily, we already had many virtual tools in place, including a great deal of our team and client communications. The greatest challenge we faced was getting everyone their desk chairs so they weren’t forced to hunch over their kitchen tables all day!
Of course, it wasn’t all easy; our team has always enjoyed dropping by each other’s desks and workstations to lend a hand, ask a question, catch up, or share ideas. We wanted to maintain that same sense of camaraderie, so our management team worked hard to make sure we could continue with virtual meetings and team-building events. We also sent out care packages to our Gems and gave them a coffee allowance so they could put away the Folgers can and go for something a little more energizing.
We also continued to invest in professional development for our Gems, including online seminars and conferences, and even night school for one of our employees working toward a degree.
Restructuring and Hiring
Because there was less of the usual day-to-day demand on our team, several members of our staff were suddenly able to focus on new tasks and priorities. This allowed us to reach incredible development milestones in a very short timeframe.
We used this time to reorganize and connect our portfolios to make sure that our teams could be more effective. For example, our commercial and charter services now work hand-in-hand under the same Vice President, Danica, to ensure our clients get an optimal mix of both when moving workers to and from site . We did the same for our three software products, CampWare, ILLUMYS, and CIRYS. Where previously each product team worked largely independently of one another, a consolidated software team now works under Vice President, Steve, to facilitate a more connected offering. This offers us a better environment for collaboration and communication as we press on toward new goals.
Our focus on the internal structure of the company allowed us to continue to hire, despite the pandemic and the double-digit unemployment rates in Alberta. Our team of Gems grew by 10% during 2020, and we were fortunate to have the pick of some incredible candidates who fit perfectly with our unique culture and values.
We also experienced growth in our leadership team. In September, after six years in leadership at Gemstone, Ross Purdie became our President, while our former President Tom McHale continues to provide us with guidance in his role as CEO.
The Expanding Global Recognition of Gemstone
Our workforce and project management software is used by companies globally, from Alaska to Argentina to Australia. The business world is increasingly moving online, opening up many worldwide opportunities for digital tech companies like Gemstone Logistics. In 2020, our CampWare software was translated into Spanish, allowing us to work with new clients in South America and creating more opportunities for us to meet the needs of international clients.
We’ve adjusted our work hours slightly to seamlessly serve our new clients worldwide, but aside from this, it’s been a fun and exciting journey for our team.
New Clients, New Opportunities
Thanks to our incredible team of Gems and our ability to adapt, we successfully ended 2020 serving more clients than we had at the beginning of the year. This was largely the result of an even greater than usual focus on service and delivery. In response to client requests, we launched enhanced software options that allowed companies to collect data related to health and safety, such as whether an employee travelled recently or whether anyone on staff has experienced COVID-19 symptoms. These new features allowed us to continue offering value to our clients during this difficult period.
Despite the ups and downs of last year, Gemstone Logistics is still growing. In 2021, we look forward to launching new products and revealing a new website design. There is also an exciting global partnership in the works. Follow us on Instagram (@gemstonelogistics) to be the first to see the announcement!