Whether you realize it or not, the hybrid or flexible work model is now the expectation for most businesses — including manufacturing.
Unfortunately, there are many myths and misconceptions about hybrid work that are holding organizations back from truly embracing it.
In this article, we’ll explain what hybrid work is, why big companies like Amazon are adopting this model, and help you decide whether offering remote work could prove beneficial to your organization.
What is Hybrid Work?
To help clear up some of the misconceptions about hybrid work, it’s important we define what it is in the first place.
A hybrid workplace enables your employees to work either in the office or out of the office. With the experience of how they communicate, interact and collaborate remaining the same no matter where they may be at any given time.
This approach might not be the right fit for every business, but it has proven to have significant cultural and productivity benefits — and makes any business a more attractive destination for skilled labor.
In fact, several big companies admitted that a failure to offer remote work posed a significant risk to their business. Companies such as Amazon and Intel believe that without remote work as an option, they would find it difficult to attract and retain their employees.
Despite this, many companies still have misconceptions about hybrid work. Here are 6 common myths people still believe.
Myth #1: Hybrid Work Doesn’t Make Sense for Manufacturers
Despite what some people might think, remote or hybrid work is entirely possible for manufacturers. In fact, it has several operational and financial benefits as well.
Here are three reasons remote work makes sense:
1. Many of your employees don’t need to be physically present to do their job well.
There is a certain portion of your workforce that is tied to the factory floor. However, departments such as HR, Engineering, Sales, Marketing, and Leadership are not.
Most of your “professional staff” can work remotely, and those groups of people will see many benefits that improve your bottom line.
2. Connecting your top floor to your shop floor allows you to monitor and mitigate downtime remotely.
With technologies such as IoT, AI and machine learning, you can gain real-time access to data and insights from your machines so you can adjust your production schedule on the fly, and from anywhere.
3. Remote work frees you and your employees to work on more important tasksAutomating time-consuming manual tasks and having real-time data at their fingertips means your managers can spend more time “managing” instead of observing production lines.
How much time are your mid-level managers spending producing reports and overseeing repetitive work?
Myth #2: Remote Workers Decrease Collaboration and make it Harder to Manage and Measure their Performance
This isn’t just a false statement — there are many tools available that not only keep your employees connected but can improve collaboration.
A recent study found that a focus on video conferencing created an invigorating collaboration climate.
Programs like Microsoft Teams connect everyone at your organization together, regardless of position. You can message, video call, or manage entire projects all from the same program, collaboratively.
And it works on a mobile device for those workers that do not have a PC.
Employing a hybrid work environment is an opportunity to re-evaluate and streamline your management processes, at the same time building trust and autonomy amongst your team.
Both are things that have proven to produce results in greater productivity and efficiency while still providing transparency to work tasks.
Myth #3: Remote Workers Are Less Productive.
This is probably the biggest misconception about hybrid work. Many believe that if you aren’t working at the office, productivity will be reduced.
However, research shows that working from home can be up to 13% more productive than working in the office, with some companies realizing a 22% increase.
Employees who can work remotely, at least part of the time, often even dedicate more hours to work, are happier and are less likely to leave. All of which lead to overall productivity gains for your company.
Myth #4: Supporting Remote Work is Expensive
Yes, you are going to have to invest in productive and secure technology and collaboration solutions.
But supporting remote work doesn’t have to be expensive. You are most likely already paying for a solution such as Microsoft 365, which has all the tools already built in to enable a hybrid workplace. If this is the case for you, your investment will be minimal – You already have the solution!
The money you realize by increasing the flexibility of where you work can provide a big boost to your revenue.
Between additional working hours, fewer sick days, and increased worker retention, some companies have realized an $11,000 per worker savings after implementing remote work.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, IBM slashed real estate costs by $50 million while Dow Chemical and Nortel saved more than 30% on non-real estate costs by including work-from-home programs.
Myth #5: Remote Work Leaves Your Company Data Vulnerable
Cybersecurity is a big concern for manufacturers who are considering a hybrid model.
This is still a very important issue for every business, regardless of whether your employees are remote or not.
The good news is there are many ways to ensure your data and assets stay protected even if your employees aren’t working at your facilities.
- Train employees to spot and avoid phishing attacks and ransomware attempts
- Enforce multi-factor authentication (MFA)
- Enable Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions within your productivity suite
- Enable Mobile Device and Mobile Application Management within the productivity suite
- Warn your employees of the dangers of unsecured public Wi-Fi and personal devices at home
- Partner with a security-focused IT provider who will help you deploy your solution securely
The reality is that it is now simpler and more cost-effective to secure an online productivity suite than it is to secure your own network! Plus, you get the added benefit of many thousands of security experts watching your data vs. You own limited (and potentially untrained) staff.
Myth #6: Remote Work is just Another Trend
Post pandemic, huge segments of the workforce experienced working remotely and they want it to stay.
An Owl Labs report from 2021 shows just how important it is to employees — it found that nearly 1 in 2 people (48%) would quit if they were no longer able to work remotely. And the majority of those that are not able to work remotely at their current job are looking for something new that will allow it.
For most office-bound potential employees this has become an expected part of the offer package. Some are even willing to accept less pay to be able to work as they want.
As businesses compete for the best candidates and the pool of skilled labor continues to shrink, more companies are going to have to implement some sort of hybrid work model to retain their best employees and attract new ones.
Why the Future of Manufacturing is Hybrid
In organizations where most of the workforce is on the shop floor, it is easy to underestimate the opportunities presented by a hybrid work model.
Those on the factory floor will be able to participate in the benefits of a new working culture as management learns new techniques for broad communication and collaboration through technology.
For manufacturers, it’s key to realize that you can find performance, savings, and employment gains by creating a remote work culture for specific roles and departments.
But the two biggest benefits of hybrid work are easy to notice:
- You can overcome the labor shortage by making your business a more attractive place to work
- You can react quickly to changes in the supply chain by optimizing production through efficient communication and collaboration
Any gains realized will eventually show up on the bottom line and help you meet your financial and production goals. The investment will pay off.