Blog

27/10/2021

A new way of working for manufacturers

As remote and hybrid working continues as a strong trend, manufacturers need to establish and adopt new ways of working to cater the needs of the “anywhere employee”.

Research by Infosys states that nearly half (46 %) of the companies studied stated that in the future working will be more flexible hybrid work between the office and remote work. To be sure, having the technology and network infrastructure already in existence before the coronavirus pandemic to swiftly support these “anywhere employees” has been an advantage. But in the long run new habits and technologies need to be firmly established and adopted.

As manufacturing organizations across the globe adapt to a remote work culture that’s set to stay long past the pandemic, there are naturally many concerns about these “anywhere” employees. If customer service, sales, channel partners, and more are all working remotely, there are bound to be fundamental changes to how work gets done in your company. The sooner your company addresses these changes, the more agile and prepared for the future of work you’ll be.

Leverage messaging on multiple channels

Even in the before times — when Corona was just a drink and our passports weren’t so dusty — there was still a consistent struggle to keep front and back-office workers efficiently connected and in sync. Now with the added ingredient of remote work, that threat looms ever larger.

But the need for seamless collaboration between corporate knowledge workers and factory floor/warehouse workers is critical in any time and setting. To fix this, it’s time manufacturers leverage communication tools across multiple channels. What used to be done by a quick walk up or downstairs now must be done with some typing and clicks.

Workers who may not have been actively involved with CRM or messaging platforms in the past may need to be alerted that this is where the communication is happening. Manufacturers ought to exploit the best communication channels in multiple categories: asynchronous (email, SMS, recorded videos), synchronous (video conferencing, phone calls), just-in-time alerts, in-context messaging feeds.

Take some time to identify multiple channels of communication. There’s no shortage of options, so pick the ones best suited to your business and your teams. But don’t rely on just one method to keep the conversation going. It’s estimated that it takes seven interactions for a message to stick. So if you have multiple communication channels involved, you have multiple checks on the process making sure work gets done.

Increase notification automations

With so much of your team now working from the comfort of their own home, the office hallways just got a lot quieter. Informal chats, post-work happy hours, lunchroom discussions, and hallway walk and talks—all gone or dramatically reduced. This loss of ad hoc conversations isn’t just a concern for the company culture and the social well-being of your employees. It can also threaten your business productivity.

When the informal venue is removed from the equation though, will your team members still exchange those quick status updates and project feedback? It’s time to not only increase the channels for ad hoc conversations but also amplify the automated notifications on those channels. This will help make up for the productivity you didn’t realize you were losing.

Statusing and updating are critical to keeping projects in motion and customer orders fulfilled. The influx of automated alert notifications, however, isn’t necessarily welcome. It can be a huge pain when the top right corner of the screen won’t stop flashing or the inbox gets overly crowded. However, with smart, subtle notification automations established through a fully integrated digital system, you can keep business moving without becoming a spam machine to your employees.

Transform internal and external processes

Finally, there is still one in-person element that’s particularly hard to capture and repackage for the anywhere employee: the instantaneousness. When you’re working in the same office space, it’s incredible how information can be sent, received, and acted on in mere seconds. In remote work, however, there’s always at least a little bit of a lag, making the turnaround time much longer as all the little async delays add up.

This is all the more reason for manufacturers to embrace the new communication patterns that emerge from comprehensive digital transformation. With the latest innovative workplace tools involved, manufacturers can increase visibility into each “anywhere employee’s” calendar and availability. Enhanced digital tools include those that provide free/busy transparency, in-context messaging, GPS automations, collaborative document environments, and many more. This functionality is readily available, but in many manufacturer organizations, it hasn’t been taken advantage of. Now is the time to embrace these tools and train your staff on them.

It’s not just about putting up a sleek digital front for the external customers — it’s about creating that seamlessness of processes internally, as well. Current employees can boost their productivity in a remote environment through digital transformation, and prospective employees will be more attracted to a manufacturing organization with a comprehensive transformation strategy at work.

Ultimately, digital transformation for manufacturers is about getting that relentless “can-do” attitude so trademark to manufacturing to translate into virtual work relationships. Walking out onto the shop floor is great, but being just as equipped and comfortable to communicate that same information through a screen to remote workers is the path forward for more connected, future-proof businesses.

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