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Flexible Work Model Implementation Pt. 2

In the previous blog of this series, we discussed how COVID-19 impacted the push for hybrid work options in the US. We also discussed types of hybrid work models and some of the statistics around what that looked like in the past few years. In part two of this blog, we’ll get into some specific next steps of how flexible work models can be implemented and move from a location to a human-centric work model.

In the annual Gartner Future of Supply Chain survey, supply chain leaders identified the most likely changes that will shape the future of global supply chains. Suzie Petrusic, Director of Research, shared: “in an environment of talent and labor shortages, supply chain leaders anticipate employee expectations to become more demanding and feel that they must prepare to meet those expectations – or lose to competitors that do”. Furthermore, “fifty-seven percent of respondents believe that those intensified employee expectations will also increase the costs of attracting, hiring, and retaining talent”. There are three strategic changes supply chain leaders can dive into to transform their organization from a location-centric to a human-centric environment. 

Give Frontline Workers Flexible Work Opportunities

Operational and frontline workers are pivotal to making sure supply chain schedules remain consistently in operation. They’re doing physical work to keep operations stable; there is a deep dependency on this group of workers. Finding willing and engaged talent to keep up with the ever-evolving demands of supply chain schedules is a pivotal part of the process. As the supply chain is evolving, giving frontline workers flexibility will enable companies to stay competitive in attracting and keeping talent. While technology can be a tool to reduce the reliance on human needs, the Gartner report found that 56% of leaders say their companies are investing to design work that is flexible for frontline workers. As a result of this, the future of supply chain will include flexible schedules and workplaces. Additionally, a smaller percentage will see the use of virtual and augmented reality to get the work done.  

Empower Intentional Collaboration

Sixty-two percent of Gartner's responses are investing in communication tools to empower more collaborative work relationships between remote and in-person workers. The environment should see more agile spaces, seamless remote and on-site collaboration, training programs to improve employee skills, and collaborative-based training programs. A key factor in encouraging supply chain employees to use collaboration is to establish trust in the process. In supply chain, it's important in maintaining beneficial relationships to ensure processes flow, and schedules are not interrupted.

Drive Empathy-based Management

Shifting employment models will push supply chain leaders to consider and drive empathy for nontraditional employees. With advances in technology and flexibility in workspaces, the talent pool will be opened to those who traditionally might not have been able to physically be on-site. There will need to be accountability around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), employee well-being on the other side of a pandemic, and enhanced protections against discrimination in the workplace. 

Conclusion

Hybrid work models are redefining how we work and collaborate in a world that is growing more diverse and connected. This shift encourages companies to rethink employee experiences and needs to remain engaged, valued, productive, and included. Hybrid work is here to stay in supply chain, and we will see it continue to involve in the future.

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