Hand-painted truck desks include U.S. flag, an elk and an owl

When Colorado Springs Utilities ordered employees to begin working from home in mid-March because of the new coronavirus pandemic, some workers found that their trucks were their new offices.

“We made our trucks into our offices and pretty much our homes,” said Jason Hylton, an engineer support supervisor who works with a group of utility inspectors.

An office, however, isn’t complete without a desk, so Hylton responded by building “truck desks” for his co-workers out of scrap plywood.

The desks are practical. They attach to the steering wheel and are used to hold computers, paperwork, lunches and more.

But they are also beautiful. Hylton’s 8- and 12-year-old daughters painted them with the favorite animals and colors of Hylton’s co-workers, who are performing inspections on water main construction for the utility.

“It was kind of funny asking grown men those questions,” he said. “We got a good laugh out of it.”

“Making them was easy,” Hylton said. “Painting them is what makes them cool.”

The paintings include Bigfoot, the U.S. flag with a police blue strip, an elk, a bull and a dog, according to Hylton.

An owl looks up from a multicolored tree with splashes of orange on one of the desks. [link:]

The desks have caught the eye of others. Hylton said he’s been asked to make 20 more for other Colorado Springs Utilities employees and also for contractors they work with.

The truck desks are just one example of how a Colorado Springs Utilities employee has risen to a challenge set in March when COVID-19 hit Colorado.

Chief Executive Officer Aram Benyamin urged the utility’s employees to be innovative as the organization and its community deal with the outbreak, according to Natalie Watts, a utility spokeswoman.

Another example of how the utility has adapted its business in the face of the coronavirus, is how it reaches the community with its educational programs. Normally in the spring, Colorado Springs Utilities is in the schools, educating hundreds of students about electric and natural gas safety and resource conservation.

With schools closed, the workers pivoted to put together packages of information for students. The packages contain resources such as energy-efficient light bulbs, worksheets and coloring books that are educational and keep kids entertained, Watts said.

The packages were handed out along with free lunches the Colorado Springs schools distribute, according to Watts.

Colorado Springs Utilities has about 231,000 electric customers and also provides natural gas, water and wastewater services to residents in the greater Pikes Peak region.