6 Manufacturing Jobs Ready for Remote Work
When we think of manufacturing, we tend to think hands-on. It’s not far from the truth — much of what happens on the factory floor demands some level of physical interaction, from pressing buttons on an HMI, to operating a forklift to move pallets. It’s been difficult for traditional manufacturers to implement telecommuting during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, they face one of two uncertainties: shutting down the plant or keeping employees on-site with the risk of virus transmission looming.
COVID-19 data points to long-term problems
After closing for periods between 30-90 days, many states have begun lifting their shelter in place orders in May. Unfortunately, early data suggests it may be too early.
The seven-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is over 25,000, with major metropolitan areas showing high numbers. States with expiring orders like Texas (April 30), Georgia (April 30), and Florida (May 4) have seen a surge in numbers since lifting lockdown. Those with upcoming deadlines — like Massachusetts (May 18), Connecticut (May 20), and Illinois (May 30) — continue to see an influx of new cases.
The fear is that as people return to work, it’ll only take a couple of months before they’re asked to stay home again. For manufacturers awaiting the pandemic to pass, this is an unsettling prospect.
Preparing for telecommuting
Fewer opportunities for telecommuting in the manufacturing industry doesn’t mean there are no opportunities. While machine operators can hardly do their jobs from home, it doesn’t mean other manufacturing personnel can’t do some or all of their duties in a remote capacity. It’s up to every manufacturer to address the scope of work of their employees, to find opportunities for telecommuting.
For example, your sales team could connect with customers from home. Your purchasing manager can maintain job duties if your inventory is digitized. Look at how digitally connected your factory is to examine telecommuting opportunities.
6 positions ready for remote work
Although it will vary from factory to factory, there are some jobs that are inherently conducive to telecommuting. Here’s a look at 6 of them:
- Supply chain managers. With the right inventory tracking and vendor management software, supply chain managers can monitor vital value streams remotely.
- Sales professionals and buyers. Access to cloud documents and a phone can turn your in-house sales team into a telecommuting powerhouse.
- Business development. Business development managers can use data from integrated systems to monitor factory operations and pivot accordingly — all while off-site.
- Consulting. Consultants may be most effective on the factory floor, but they have the capacity to work from home, if needed. It’s a chance to crunch the numbers.
- Controller/finance. Financial departments can almost always do their job from home, provided you have a secure portal to cloud-based financial software.
- CAD and product engineers. Design and engineering teams can effectively collaborate via cloud documentation to ensure product specificationss meet demand.
Where a fully remote work setup may not be possible for everyone, there are opportunities for part-time telecommuting. Split up teams over shifts or by day to mitigate overexposure in the workplace.
As the timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to stretch into the future, manufacturers need to be nimble in their planning. Start looking for ways to implement telecommuting for employees, and strive to keep the physical workplace staffed with only those employees whose job is distinctly hands-on.