12 Oct 3 strategies to transition your manufacturing team to hybrid work
Businesses across all industries are making the transition to remote and hybrid workforces, and manufacturing is no exception. Nearly half of manufacturing employees, or 47 percent, reported at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that they already had experience working remotely, according to a survey of the manufacturing and industrial engineering industry. The pandemic, of course, has dramatically accelerated this trend toward remote and hybrid work—and it’s not going to revert back, even after the pandemic is fully in the rear-view mirror.
Manufacturers that are making the transition to remote and hybrid work are realizing that their workforce is, on the whole, more satisfied, more productive, and more willing to stay in their jobs long term. The reason is simple: Employees want more flexibility in how and when work gets done, including improved automation and more streamlined workflows. That said, the transition to remote and hybrid work is not something that can just happen overnight. In fact, the pandemic has laid bare the frustration and pain that manufacturers experience when they suddenly must convert their workforce to a remote or hybrid model—without having time to properly prepare and plan. Let’s explore three foundational strategies that every manufacturer can implement to facilitate the successful transition of their teams from fully onsite to remote and hybrid work:
Invest in remotely operated and remotely monitored systems
Before the pandemic, there was already some investment in remote operations equipment and the systems/infrastructure to support it. But now, that demand and capital investment in manufacturing have been immensely accelerated after the past year of remote work constraints. The pandemic has emphasized for manufacturers the importance of these technologies in both helping employees to make a successful transition to remote and hybrid work, as well as providing a way to better service their customers. For example, manufacturers are learning how to install sensors in their equipment that can provide real-time data on performance and downtimes; it’s already commonplace in the oil and gas industries, and the same basic technologies can be applied to monitor everything from elevator motors to 3-D printing. With these remote-work technologies, employees are not only able to work offsite at the times and in the locations that are most convenient for them, but the improved automation and streamlined operations allow the manufacturer to redirect the time and energy that their on-site teams were once spending on more routine, procedural tasks to more complex, higher-value work
Help on-site and remote employees to communicate more easily
The pandemic has helped businesses of all kinds invest in remote communications platforms—Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and so forth. In the manufacturing world, these investments mean that teams no longer need to be face to face—in many cases, offsite teams can communicate and collaborate just as effectively through these systems as when they’re physically in the same room together. When manufacturers invest in these technologies, they’re ensuring that not only will remote employees be able to communicate effectively, but also that onsite employees will be able to communicate seamlessly with their remote counterparts when necessary. Manufacturers also are increasingly learning that they need to invest in collaboration software like videoconferencing, as well as cloud systems that allow teams to operate equipment remotely from their own computers and mobile devices. Furthermore, investing in these technologies may actually make employees more likely to communicate more often—the change is top-down and not going to be second nature for a while, but if given enough time and encouragement employees will find these added technologies empowering and an aid in creating more agility.
Cross-train teams to perform a broader range of tasks
Manufacturers once had the luxury of encouraging specialization, where individual workers could become experts on a specific aspect of production. While this goal is still admirable, it’s not compatible with remote and hybrid work—nor is it necessary. As teams transition to remote and hybrid work, the teams that remain on site must have a broader range of skill sets to still get everything done. Thus, the key to making this transition effectively is to provide more training for on-site teams, converting specialists into generalists. On-site teams should be paired with off-site specialists and subject-matter experts who can provide them with ongoing counsel and support. On-site teams also should be the beneficiaries of investments in automation and monitoring systems that help on-site teams more readily complete and keep track of all of the tasks on their plate.
The pandemic has shown manufacturers that investing in remote and hybrid work options is a win-win for both the employer and employees. And there’s a third beneficiary: Talented younger generations who will be attracted to pursue careers in manufacturing specifically because of remote and hybrid work options. To create seamless work experiences for off-site teams, manufacturers should invest in remotely operated and monitored systems, invest in modern communications platforms to improve communications between onsite and offsite employees, and cross-train their on-site teams to perform a broader range of tasks.
The most important technology solution that any manufacturer can invest in to facilitate the transition from onsite work to remote and hybrid work is Salesforce. This powerful, multi-functional platform is foundational to creating interconnectivity among all of the systems and teams within your manufacturing organization. To learn how Simplus uses Salesforce to help manufacturers transition to remote and hybrid work, reach out to us today.