Establishing Hybrid Work Models in Manufacturing

Nov 2021 | Article

establishing hybrid work models in manufacturing

Summary: The pandemic - that you are probably tired of reading about by now - has permanently transformed the way businesses work. While there will always be scope for learning and adapting to future advancements, we have already touched a point where enterprises, including manufacturing companies, are not just deploying remote work systems for some or all of their workers but are planning to make the change permanent. “Hybrid work model” is the term describing these new work practices.

At the onset of the pandemic in 2020, manufacturing organisations scrambled to make extensive and unprecedented operational changes for their business continuity. They had to reimagine their frontline and back-office work to accommodate physical distancing requirements and travel restrictions.

Today, even as global economies reopen and companies welcome back some of their workers to office, many have already seen the benefits of a remote and productive workforce.

To stay prepared for another disruption of a similar magnitude, manufacturers must continue to harness the benefits they received from digital tech and virtualisation.

They should focus on the collaboration tools that will support their combinations of on-site and remote work. They should also pay attention to the health and wellness of their employees and choose appropriate workforce management tools to enhance their productivity and security.

Let us now delve into the top reasons that justify the continued use of these hybrid setups – with facilities for both on-site and remote work – in manufacturing organisations.

Hybrid models simplify frontline teamwork

Before on-site workers initiate them, large-scale production and installation projects need stakeholder consent. It was common to see dozens of project managers, business unit heads, senior engineers, and technicians gather at sites to give their stamp of approval on new processes and validation testing in the pre-pandemic years. These logistical feats also added to the costs of operations.

A hybrid model with facilities for remote collaboration eliminates the need for real-world gatherings and the cost arrangements surrounding them.

Teams that need to spend hours and sometimes days travelling to different locations for work can tour the facilities virtually and collaborate using conferencing software along with AR-VR devices.

Using digital meeting solutions, manufacturers not only save costs but can also start their projects faster.

Scope of virtual training and workshops widens

Several industrial activities are complicated to handle. New or inexperienced workers need to have the right knowledge and skills before operating the actual equipment. Remote collaboration tools make it easier to train them under the guidance of senior technicians and supervisors.

Instead of getting its limited number of trainers stretched thin, a manufacturing company can leverage collaboration tools and hire subject matter experts from any location to train new employees. It can also divide a large group into smaller teams for effective and personalised virtual training sessions.

With access to cloud-based platforms to store and update their data, trainers can also use various images, videos, and documents to help on-site workers and facilitate better decision-making.

Some tasks can be completed from remote locations

Not all employees in a manufacturing enterprise are “production workers”. By shifting the employees with back-office roles to a remote work model, the organisation can reduce its administrative costs and build a safer work environment for those at production facilities.

Besides, studies have shown that working from home improved productivity for most employees. Research from Gartner has predicted that by 2024, half of the work in industrial companies will be done remotely. In the industry 4.0 environment, technologies such as IoT, AR-VR, artificial intelligence, and machine learning will also allow engineers to get deeper insight into plant processes. This implies feasibility for considerable diagnostic and collaborative work to be completed from remote locations.

Hybrid models ensure better business continuity and resilience

It is well-understood that COVID-19 brought massive industrial disruption. Cloud technology came to the rescue for global businesses and helped them empower remote workforce practices. Despite the initial hiccups, organisations survived, and many even thrived.

Now that enterprises are using cloud platforms to perform multiple functions – store documents, manage customer relationships, organise meetings, run contact centre services, and collect payments – they are better equipped to handle any crisis that can upend their operations. For ensuring future-proof business continuity, it will be wise not to give up or scale down these capabilities.

Using a secure web and audio-conferencing platform for online meetings also helps a company maintain all its project-related assets in one repository.

From the management perspective, too, a combination of remote and on-site work builds organisational resilience – a strength that every brand needs.

Resilience may be interpreted in two different ways here. In the first context, it implies responding speedily to new business challenges – for instance, a major client demanding detailed engineering analysis on their project within a single workday.

Risk management experts typically use the other meaning of resilience in verticals such as commercial insurance – it is the ability to withstand business disruption and minimise loss from events like natural disasters and cyberattacks.

The distribution of on-site and remote work in a hybrid structure for manufacturing companies positively impacts both these fronts.

The manufacturing industry is ripe for the hybrid model

The response to the pandemic and lockdowns became a proof of concept that a hybrid work model can perform even in the manufacturing industry. Companies were also convinced that cloud-based digital tools for collaboration and data management held advantages over conventional working methods. They realised the benefits of IoT-based tracking tools for asset tracking and connected supply chains.

Agreed, manufacturing enterprises need a unique IT infrastructure to integrate their advanced apps with remote work tools seamlessly. And that becomes easier by partnering with an experienced connectivity and communication service provider.

Zoom - a globally accepted audio-video communication platform

Tata Tele Business Services (TTBS) has a tailored portfolio of ICT solutions that help enterprises deploy and optimise their hybrid work models. One of these services is Zoom, launched after Tata Teleservices partnered with Zoom Video Communications Inc. to provide seamless and secure digital conferencing solutions in India.

Businesses including manufacturing companies can now make their Zoom meeting and webinar experiences more structured and reliable by subscribing to the service directly from TTBS.

Zoom brings a frictionless video communication interface accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets, and conference room kits. Ease of joining meetings from anywhere, cloud-based recording of discussions, and an array of tools to track the progress of projects being facilitated by the tool make it an ideal platform for remote collaboration. It also lends flawless privacy to communications with 256-bit TLS encryption and secures shared content with AES-256 encryption.

While offering Zoom services to our customers, we guarantee an SLA-backed uptime of 99% and become a single point of contact for instant resolution to any query related to the system.

To know more about Zoom and other tools relevant to hybrid work setups in your organisation, please call us at 1800 266 1800.

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