Perhaps the only thing harder than coordinating work for EPCRA Tier II reports is having to do it from home. But deadlines are deadlines, and the pandemic is still a pandemic. Which means environmental compliance teams could be working remotely this Tier II season more than they normally would.
Don’t panic if your team is one of them, though.
While not everyone involved in EPCRA Tier II reporting is equipped to work from home, many of us have been doing it now for months. (Encamp’s workforce has gone entirely remote because of the Covid-19 threat.) And if your team was distributed across facilities before the pandemic, you likely have a remote framework already in place. So for Tier II prep, it could just mean channeling more of your communications and legwork into the virtual process.
If you don’t already use the following work-at-home tools and best practices, consider implementing them. Especially this year, they might be your best friends for Tier II compliance. If you haven’t already, check out our COVID checklist for teams working remotely.
Get everyone on the same EPCRA Tier II path
Rule #1 for a dispersed compliance team. Get everyone on the same path, both as an online workgroup and as integrated contributors. Then, emphasize collaboration to the nth degree. Even when final reports fall to one or two people, EPCRA Tier II reporting is a group process — from an EHS director to any specialist who gathers and verifies data.
Provide structure with checklists and playbooks
Within a Tier II workflow, every person should know what’s expected by way of their role, local and federal regulations, scheduled tasks, and deadlines. Particularly for a remote team, checklists and playbooks (or processes) provide structure and serve as guardrails to keep everyone going in the right direction. Such tools can further help ensure reporting accuracy by keeping details from slipping through the cracks.
Tools like playbooks are also easy to create as your team determines Tier II tasks and assignments — “easy” meaning “don’t overthink them.” Once tasks are discussed and solidified, organize them in a shared document accessible to everyone on the team. The document then becomes your playbook, and remote compliance teams should create as many of them as necessary for Tier II efforts.
By clarifying roles and tasks this way, dispersed team members can work collaboratively, yet independently. The team can also be more proactive, as opposed to reacting to issues that haven’t been thought through. You know, no winging it.
- The Ultimate Checklist for Tier II Reporting. Use this checklist from Encamp or model one of your own.
- Online whiteboards. Apps like Ziteboard and miro are good for putting playbooks together. Many of these apps have free versions, and most offer advanced features like voice and video chat for additional fees. Process Street is another effective web app for formulating processes.
- Encamp’s Tier II Dashboard. We’ll list our web-based dashboard because of its checklist-style oversight view of activities for Tier II. It’s also easily accessed by every member of a remote EHS team. Take a dashboard video tour here.
Meet often and communicate like clockwork
Even online, meeting regularly throughout the Tier II reporting process serves as another collaboration guardrail. It also makes for proactive communications, which are invaluable when an EHS team is working remotely.
Meet on-demand. When something needs to be done or resolved right now, an always-on video connection works best.
Weekly status and planning meetings. Mondays recommended. Regularly scheduled times preferred. Discuss what’s been done and what must be accomplished for the week. Call it a weekly sprint.
Daily standup meetings. Over-communication? Maybe so. But if you’ve ever been involved in a Tier II reporting effort, you know things change constantly. As a team, simply take a few minutes every day to stay caught up. It helps everyone address issues before they become problems.
Standups also have a social aspect for a remote team. Sometimes people just want to say hello and see how everybody’s doing.
- Video meeting software. Zoom is already in the online arsenal for many remote teams, but apps like Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, BigBlueButton, Cisco WebEx, and GoToMeeting are also effective. Video is the best tool for all-hands meetings, as well as for quick unscheduled discussions to put out Tier II fires.
- Channel-based messaging platform. For the workplace, Slack is best because you can set up different channels for different Tier II activities and constantly keep every team member in the loop. Just don’t try to fit a social platform like Facebook into a work environment.
- Email apps. Email will always be a communications staple. Microsoft Outlook and Gmail from Google are the standards.
Encourage interacting “face to face”
A reminder first that we’re all human, and that technology will never replace in-person interactions. But for remote teams, video apps are the best alternative for obvious reasons: Interacting on a video call is more interpersonal than email and messaging. We’re able to get our thoughts across directly. We can pick up on the other person’s nonverbal cues and expressions. And we open the door to exchanging thoughts, sharing knowledge, and generally interacting in real time, especially in groups.
Mostly however, in the madness of preparing for EPCRA Tier II, an on-demand video connection and being able to communicate face-to-face is a must.
Set Tier II reporting goals per team member
Although some EHS compliance teams have Tier II reporting down to a science, the process isn’t typically a precise one. Yes, there are reporting deadlines to meet. And meeting them is extremely critical. But another part of being human is that we often accomplish different tasks in different ways — and working remotely only heightens this “independence.” Figuring out what works best for each person on your team therefore becomes more important.
The Tier II process is a journey; as a result, one idea is to break the process into goals for each specialist and set deadlines for each goal. Then, let that person go about achieving the goal the best way they know how. The approach also lets each member of the team set a work-at-home path that’s most comfortable for them, which can actually make them more productive.
Of course, team members should abide by playbooks and checklists when you have them. But on the Tier II path overall, making it a path of achievable steps better accommodates different work styles.
Share documents and work visibly
For EPCRA Tier II reporting, just think of all the spreadsheets and forms and records that need to be reviewed and verified. This makes document sharing yet another vital guardrail for collaboration among an EHS compliance team working remotely. The first key is having an effective document storage hub in place. The second is creating an environment in which all remote users can access, review, and edit documents as a group.
Encamp works with several compliance teams who use database apps like SAP or Salesforce for document management. Internally, we use Notion to manage our datasets and customer info — although we rely more heavily on Encamp’s environmental compliance management software to help customers organize their data for Tier II reporting. (More on our app in a minute…)
Beyond Notion, apps like Google Docs, Paper, Quip, and Coda are also good apps for Tier II doc sharing. And while ProofHub is more of an overall project management software, it includes an online proofing tool to review and proof files. ProofHub additionally integrates with other apps like Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, Box to bring all documents together in one place.
Consider Encamp for working remotely
Ok, shameless plug here. Encamp’s platform and EPCRA module for Tier II reporting lets a compliance team work entirely remotely. From wherever your specialists are, you centralize compliance information with profiles for every facility and a 50-state aware compliance tracker. Compliance applicability for each facility is determined automatically.
To get every team member on the same path and keep reporting on track, you do it via the Encamp Tier II Dashboard. Compliance calendars and tasks and reminders lend structure to your remote team and let you establish goals per team members. Integrating workflows for state fields from the EPA, NOAA, and all 50 states, plus calculations to confirm TPQs and EHSs, basically creates a Tier II playbook for you.
And in simplifying EPCRA Tier II and other EHS reporting, you get intelligent forms and an automated reporting and submission process. Encamp additionally lets you maintain, share and review audit-ready records and compliance docs in one place.
Made for consultants, too
The Encamp platform for EHS consultants is a single portal to automate and streamline EPCRA Tier II reporting for all your clients’ facilities, in all 50 states. As a reporting system, you get a first-of-its-kind solution designed entirely from a consultant’s perspective. As an intelligent platform, it’s the same technology that’s made Encamp a leader in the environmental compliance industry.
And as a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) offering with no software to install, you get going in days, work from anywhere, and realize incredibly fast time to value.
Trailblazers in EHS compliance
Since Encamp started in 2017, we’ve been empowering EHS professionals to focus on EHS performance, not EHS paperwork. We do it with the first modern, end-to-end compliance platform for EHS professionals, which makes EHS compliance faster, easier, and more accurate. You then make your co-workers and community safer, and make your company a better steward of the environment.
By the numbers, Encamp has become the largest third-party filer of EPCRA Tier II reports in the country. We’re also closing in on 200 customers (and counting), currently manage more than 3,000 of their facilities, and have tracked more than 20,000 compliance dates, to date.
We’ve even had nearly 3,300 trees planted through the One Tree Planted environmental charity — one tree for each compliance report we’ve filed for our customers thus far.
Visit us at www.encamp.com to read more, watch more, request a demo, and start simplifying your Tier II reporting.