How mobile communication builds manufacturing resilience.

By: Daniel Sztutwojner, chief customer officer/co-founder for Beekeeper

It’s safe to say none of us have ever experienced a year like 2020. For manufacturers, it’s been a journey littered with disruption. As we continue to grapple with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become clear that business models must adapt to survive. This adaptation process should start by changing the approach to operational communication from a static, top-down model to a more agile, mobile-first strategy.

As the pandemic made its way across the globe, the nature of work instantly changed. Desk workers suddenly went remote while many frontline workers remained on site, and were forced to adapt fast to an endless list of new rules and regulations around how they did their jobs. Entire workforces were geographically dispersed which put a tremendous strain on leaders trying to stay connected, sustain their workplace culture, and align their workforce.

But the events of this year have accelerated a trend that was already in motion—the prevalence of mobile communication among frontline workers. In 2020, the use of mobile devices has jumped by 70% and spending on mobile apps hit an all-time high.

Manufacturing leaders have a unique opportunity to use this trend to their advantage, connecting with their entire organization by switching to a mobile-first communication approach that includes every worker, regardless of their location, language, or shift schedule.

Here is why, and how, manufacturing industry leaders should digitally enable their frontline workers right now.

A Workforce Primed for Mobile

As a greater number of Baby Boomers retire, Millennials and Generation Z now make up the largest percentage of the modern workforce. They are a digitally literate group, and are rarely without their personal devices.

In the United States, 96% of these younger workers own a smartphone, and 22% rely on those devices for their primary access to the internet.

They’re an agile demographic who easily switches employers, unlike previous generations who committed to companies for much longer. Deloitte’s Global Millennial Survey 2019 revealed that 49% of Millennials would leave their job within the next two years for a variety of reasons that include:

  • Flexibility to work remotely
  • More control over their schedules for better work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth within the company
  • Greater recognition for their work
  • Diversity represented in the workforce

Manufacturing companies can address these retention issues by meeting these workers where they’re at—on their mobile devices.

A Chance to Rebuild the Manufacturing Workforce

There is a massive opportunity lying ahead for manufacturers. The World Economic Forum has coined this next phase “The Great Reset.” As the world rebounds from the pandemic and companies begin to find their footing in this new normal, manufacturers can position themselves to remedy broken chains of communication, reconfigure outdated business models, and build a more robust workforce.

Consider that frontline workers make up 80% of the global workforce, yet companies only dedicate 1% of their enterprise IT spending on frontline digital enablement. It’s a missed opportunity. But in this era of new beginnings, companies should start putting more money into their communication as they are in Industry 4.0 technology.

Forging a digital path led by a mobile-first approach can help companies build and sustain a healthy workforce, essential in an industry that has struggled with a shrinking labor pool and a widening skills gap.

A Fully-Connected, More Resilient Organization

As a company that is committed to digital enablement of frontline workers, we wanted to find out for ourselves what the challenges and obstacles are for organizations who use more traditional methods of communication. Here are a few of takeaways we learned:

  • The average frontline worker spends three hours every week trying to find information.
  • Frontline managers must use 60% of their time each week just coordinating between their supervisors and their frontline teams.
  • Companies are still spending the bulk of their tech budget on desktop applications instead of frontline-friendly mobile tools.
  • Less than 20% of workers are reachable within five minutes.

With a digital workplace, companies can connect, digitize, automate, and optimize their processes. What does this mean for manufacturers? Most importantly, it means an overall safer operation. We discovered that nearly half of manufacturers must complete safety paperwork on a daily basis. But requiring the sign off of two or three managers and having to remind employees to fill out safety reports multiple times slows down the production process. This process can be streamlined when everyone has access to the same documents through their mobile device.

The pandemic did not deter the rise of mobile communication. In fact, during this time, mobile moved into pole position as the primary way people access communication and information.

Manufacturers can benefit by transitioning to a mobile communication strategy to align their organization, ensure resilience, and build business continuity.

daniel sztutwojner beekeeper
Daniel Sztutwojner

Daniel Sztutwojner is chief customer officer and co-founder of Beekeeper, the single point of contact for your frontline workforce. Beekeeper’s mobile platform brings communications and tools into one place to improve agility, productivity, and safety. Daniel is passionate about helping businesses operate more efficiently. Daniel can be contacted at: contact@beekeeper.io.