May 16, 2020

COVID-19: is manufacturing prepared for home working

Health and safety
Georgia Wilson
3 min
A recent study conducted by Leesman, reveals that the UK manufacturing and industrial engineering industry is not prepared for working from home.


A recent study conducted by Leesman, reveals that the UK manufacturing and industrial engineering industry is not prepared for working from home.

Surveying over 700,000 employees worldwide, 52,240 of those were from the manufacturing and industrial engineering sector. The survey highlighted that 53% of those within the industry have no home working experience. 

As the Coronavirus maintains its pandemic status by the World Health Organisation, key players around the world are advising their employees to work from home to attempt to curb the outbreak and protect their workforce. With the UK currently advised to work from home if they can and to definitely stay at home if you are sick, Leesman stresses that with large scale remote working the manufacturing and industrial engineering sectors must prepare itself for a reduction in productivity and innovation. 

Across the industry, those that do work from home, 90% typically do so for just one day a week or less, with 0.5% working from home more than four days a week, and 35% of sporadic home workers lacking a dedicated room to work from.


The main risks for the manufacturing and industrial engineering industry indicated by Leesman as a result from working from home, include:

  • A reduced sense of community (-21.1%)

  • A reduction in social interactions (-20.4%)

  • A reduction in the transfer of knowledge (-25.8%)

  • A reduction in shared learning (-11.0%)

“Home working will undoubtedly prove pivotal in limiting the impact of the coronavirus crisis. But the data suggests that many employers and employees across the manufacturing and engineering space will be out of their depth should British businesses be forced into lockdown. Our advice is for organisations to quickly quantify where their main obstacles will be and seek support.” commented Tim Oldman, CEO at Leesman. 

“We know how and why corporate offices impact employee sentiment but have significantly less understanding of even the short-term impact of dispersing teams to environments designed for living, not working. Industries must brace themselves, but the manufacturing and engineering space must remain one of the most cautious,” added Oldman.

In light of the current actions businesses are having to take in response to the current pandemic, Leesman is mobilising its research tools to enable employers within the private and public sector to support newly remote workers.

Leesman’s index rating covering over 90 indicators in relation to physical, virtual and social workplace infrastructure, highlights how other employees are supported, monitoring key economic indicators including, personal and collective productivity, knowledge transfer and pride. 

About Leesman

Established in 1992, Leesman began its operations in order to examine consistently and in depth the affect workplaces have on employees and organisational performance. Leesman prides itself on its intellectual curiosity and determination to challenge common thinking, leading the organisation to where it is today, “the owners of the largest independent database of workplace effectiveness data in the world.” 

The team at Leesman have one purpose: “to exceed expectations in everything they do, whether that’s working for a client, a supplier, or each other. We’re here to turn your data into valuable insights so that you can make informed, evidence-based choices when it comes to developing your workplace strategies.”

For more information on manufacturing topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Manufacturing Global.

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May 12, 2021

Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers

2 min
57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support smart manufacturing digitalisation

With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.

While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.

“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.

“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”

Change Management

Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.

“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.

Technology and People

While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.

“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.

Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.

Discover Gartner's Five Best Practices for Post COVID-19 Innovation' in manufacturing.

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