Does remote work impact Canadian Manufacturing?

By Brian Pho | September 2, 2021 | Industry Trends

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How does Work from Home affect Canadian Manufacturing? Can a Work From Home culture exist in Manufacturing?

Understanding the nature of your role and industry you’re in is a key component in deciding if you should work from home or have a hybrid model of work. For example, if your career is in digital media , a remote work environment might make the most sense for you. Shopify Canada – a Canadian multi-national technology powerhouse has recently moved to fully remote base. Employees can work from anywhere in the world as long as they have a stable internet connection. Many companies are adopting a flexible work from home schedule.

How does remote work relate to Canadian Manufacturing?

Through my networking, I’ve talked with numerous senior Operations and Production Management staff. If you are responsible for running a manufacturing facility, working from home or having a flexible work schedule is obviously not an option. Production has to run 24/7 and product has to be shipped to keep our economy functioning. Shipping / Receiving , Production / Operations Management and Supply Chain Functions still have to be physically seen on the shop or warehouse floor in order prior to be shipped out to the customer. These functions can not be transferred to remote work.

On the other side, Sales, Accounting and Information Technology Management positions can be more suited towards remote work due to their nature. Managing Servers, Cloud Based data and working on Information Security can all be translated to a remote work environment. Throughout the pandemic, it has been normal to interview candidates through Microsoft Teams and Zoom. One of my latest hires went through 3 virtual interviews prior before an offer was presented without even visiting the plant.

Long term Effects of Remote Work?

It is difficult to figure out if this change to a Remote Work culture will have a lasting impact on Canadian Manufacturing. As employees start to move back into an office environment, they will find the office environment has changed. Employers like Sun Life Canada are offering a flexible back to work policy. As stated by Jacques Goulet (Canadian President of Sun Life Canada), ‘Our employees can choose where they want to work from, with no minimum or maximum days in either place.‘ (Toronto Life Magazine October 2021). Many other large multi-national banks are in discussions of how to implement a remote work or a hybrid model as their employees move back into the office environment.

How does this Affect Candidate Recruiting and Employee Retention?

The Remote work environment has a significant impact on Recruiting and Employee Retention. Companies and cultures who are not offering a hybrid / work-from-home model risk losing top talent leaving their corporation to smaller companies in favor of less compensation pay and a greater ability for a flexible work environment. When I interview candidates, they are starting to ask if the potential employer will offer a hybrid/remote work option. If not, the candidate will decide to not even pursue the position in favor of a hybrid role. After 16 months of working from home in a pandemic environment, we have changed how our world thinks of work. Productivity is more of a key indicator of work completion regardless of where the employee lives.

The pandemic has changed the nature of how we work. If this model is sustainable for future years to come, only time will tell.

The truth is, you can’t work from home if you are in the manufacturing industry. Jobs in this sector depend on being present at a designated location to do your job. There is no such thing as work form home culture when it comes to jobs in this industry.

If you’re interested in continuing this conversation about whether there’s room for work at home in Canadian manufacturing contact me here!

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