The pandemic has brought a lot of changes to the manufacturing industry, as this IndustryWeek op-ed from Autodesk points out - but perhaps the biggest change of all will be to the location of workers. The shift towards having a large number of permanently remote/at-home workers is probably now irreversible. One recent survey from Enterprise Technology Research predicts a doubling of remote workers in the year to come, with those surveyed seeing more than 1/3 of their workforce staying out of the office.
Even before the coronavirus hit, workers were increasingly pushing for flexible hours or telecommuting options. For example, this 2019 survey showed that 74% of workers would be willing to quit their job in favor of one that allowed for remote work - and 26% already had!
The writing is on the wall, and it's hard to imagine anything changing the situation. Manufacturers must start preparing for having a large number of workers staying at home, and that means embracing better tools for communications and collaboration.
Connecting Your Workforce
Simply put, industrial leaders need to be looking towards cloud-based software tools which are accessible from anywhere their workers might be.
The communications side of this equation is the easier part. Numerous software packages now exist that allow for text, audio, and\or video conferencing, and most of them are either free or inexpensive to use. Skype, Zoom, and Facetime have been staples of quarantine work already, and that won't change any time soon. However, larger manufacturers might want to look into more bespoke private solutions that don't rely so heavily on public networks or third-party companies who may be monitoring their communications - particularly if they'll be discussing trade secrets over those networks.
These initiatives also mean investment into secure data centers which are separate from your in-office network. Cloud data centers are well worth the money because they keep your data accessible from anywhere, as well as serving as reliable backup systems if anything were to happen to your main servers. These systems typically come with strong security and privacy, as well as contractually-mandated uptimes to guarantee they'll always be available when needed.
Finally, consider the importance of training and certification. If you still mostly rely on in-person seminars and training sessions, it'll be necessary to find tools that allow for online learning and testing. eLearning is almost as effective as learning in a classroom environment, but is far safer. It's also better for busy workers who may not appreciate the disruption of in-person classes, and would prefer to fit lessons into their own schedules. Plus you'll save a lot of money on travel expenses!
FUSE Makes Communication and Training Easy
If you're looking for a simple solution for enabling communication and training across your entire ecosystem, look into FUSE by LogicBay. FUSE is our first-of-its-kind, free to use system for hosting collaborative communications, articles, and full training modules all in one place. You can track individual users' contributions and testing success, while putting together full curriculums or certification programs.