INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Canyon Dell’ Omo of WorkerSense Tells Us How COVID-19 has Accelerated Remote Work Technology Adoption in the Construction Industry
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Canyon Dell’ Omo: Luckily enough, everyone is doing well. We’ve all been being smart and staying isolated since the start, so I’m glad to say we haven’t had any trouble.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined WorkerSense
Canyon Dell’ Omo: I started WorkerSense in my dorm room during my sophomore year at Duke University. Studying Biomedical Engineering, I had a vested interest in the intersection of technology and the “human element”, a concept that is especially compelling when introduced to modern industry. Out of the gate, construction seemed like the best fit for me, as wearable sensor technology is best aligned with environments that yield significant environmental variability individual to individual. In my eyes, using a simple wearable sensor to automatically manage health and safety, and automate production workflows on large job sites seemed like a no-brainer. I pumped out some hand-soldered prototypes (still in my dorm room), and conducted a preliminary experiment on a Gilbane project on campus. Results were promising, and I ran with the vision from there.
Now, a couple of years later, we’re based in Los Angeles, have expanded the team up to seven people, and have built the best construction wearable solution on the market, delivering a product that offers unparalleled capabilities to site management personnel, while driving strong workforce engagement and acceptance through a uniquely data-democratic approach.
It’s been quite the journey so far, and I’m incredibly excited to see where it goes. More information about my entrepreneurial journey can be found on this link https://www.
How does WorkerSense innovate?
Canyon Dell’ Omo:I think we’re uniquely positioned given the fact that I’m a newcomer to the construction industry. At the time of starting this company, I had never set foot on a construction site. It was certainly a long road to learn the in’s and out’s of the space, but it’s allowed me to avoid my product creativity being bounded by a “this is how we’ve always done it” bias I see quite commonly in the construction technology arena. That said, there’s obviously a critical balancing act of shaping a product that is simultaneously on the cusp of innovation, but still respectful to tradition and current methodologies- and I think we do that really well. Our success comes from having a solution that is able to check the boxes of what a lot of builders are looking for today, while at the same time, really going the extra mile with unique features and capabilities of tomorrow that builders didn’t necessarily know they needed.
And to be honest, in addition to technology-centric innovation, I think we are quite innovative from a concept-centric perspective. Whether it’s a gamification of social distancing on job sites to drive better compliance, or implementing a worker-level ranking system with fun awards and accolades, we’re always coming up with new ways to do things, not just new tools to use.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Canyon Dell’ Omo: As is the case with a lot of other technology players, we definitely saw an uptick in traffic over the past few months. We were the first construction wearable solution to deploy distancing enforcement and contact tracing. We have done so in a simple over the air (OTA) firmware update after testing and development on our R&D site in Chatsworth, CA. I’m definitely a competitive person, but I’m glad I saw some of the other players in the space emulate our COVID-19 management tools, as worker safety is obviously paramount in times like these.
Beyond contact management, I think COVID-19 measurably accelerated remote work technology adoption in the industry. While the workforce remained on-site, most project teams tried to minimize time on-site, which naturally lead to heightened interest in remote management technologies like ours.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Canyon Dell’ Omo: As mentioned, I feel very lucky to have been in an industry that responded somewhat positively to the pandemic. I want to mention a positive that has come out of this situation that isn’t necessarily bottom line-related, and that is the transition to working from home. I pride myself on always trying to foster genuine, personal connections throughout our business development. I love taking the time to get to know more about our clients personally, hearing about their kids, brainstorming potential features, etc. And now that we’ve all transitioned to working remotely, I think you get an even more personal connection- whether you’re laughing with a C-level executive whose kids just ran into the meeting, or something as simple as getting to say “Hello” to someone’s dogs. It’s been really special to be quite honest. We’re all just people trying to do what’s right and leave our mark on the world, and I think the more often we’re reminded of that, the more positive doing business gets.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and WorkerSense in the future?
Canyon Dell’ Omo: I don’t really get stressed out or anxious. Why would I? I feel incredibly lucky to be in a position today where I get to do exactly what I love doing, in a beautiful place like Los Angeles. I’m excited about the future- we’re rolling out one of the best wearable platforms ever created to top-10 general contractors, leading specialty contractors, renewable energy EPCs, and more. I think there are some very big things waiting for us in the future as we continue to take over this market.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Canyon Dell’ Omo: I don’t necessarily want to name names, but to be honest, I’m fairly underwhelmed by the construction wearable arena as a whole. I think the most impressive categories of construction technology right now are machine vision tools and autonomous machinery- but aside from our solution, I’m really not seeing that same level of capability from the other players in the wearable category. As a CEO, I welcome the vacancy in the market, but as a competitive technologist, I’m disappointed.
Your final thoughts
Canyon Dell’ Omo: I’m just really passionate about where we are today and our overall commitment to the workers. Every worker on a WorkerSense project has access to a fully bespoke tradesman experience, gaining access to project insights, industry news, fun on-site gamification, health and wellness recommendations, detailed work history logs, and complimentary discounts on healthy meals, workout classes, skills courses, and more. To be honest, I think the complimentary worker benefits are one of the most exciting things we’ve had the opportunity to add to our platform in a while. These men and women work hard, long hours, in varying conditions, in physically demanding roles- and they are headed home to take care of their families once they clock out. Eating healthy is expensive. Staying physically fit takes time.
With this new offering, I think it’s amazing that your average worker can now choose to eat a healthy meal that is just as quick and affordable as a trip to Subway or McDonalds. I think it’s amazing that your average worker can now take 20 minutes after work to do a quick virtual workout class led by some of the best instructors in the world. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. No one wants to be unhealthy. And as an employer, you’re now seeing heightened attentiveness to safety on the job site, heightened productivity, and a myriad of other benefits that come with having a healthy and mentally well workforce.
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