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How Hybrid Working Could Affect the Engineering & Technical Sectors

  • by: Alex Fuller
  • On: 22, Jul 2021
4 min read

The engineering sector is ever-changing and extremely adaptable. As time marches on, the effects of the disruption of COVID-19 on businesses in all sectors become clear. The so-called ‘old-fashioned’ or traditional way of working has been replaced by a new normal – of which hybrid working is a valuable stakeholder.

After having no option but to adapt to home working in 2020, employees now prefer the balance between work life and home life that remote working allows. With costs being cut companies are supporting the effort with many businesses selling office space. office. We witnessed a boom of remote work trends in 2020 and now, in 2021 we are witnessing a shift to the hybrid model.

Most employees in 2020 have said to prefer working remotely after being restricted to work from home during the pandemic based on the preference of better-balanced work life and home life.

VHR’s technical recruitment specialists have taken a look at the hybrid working model and how this could end up affecting those working in the Engineering and Technical Sectors.

Helpful Rather Than Harmful?

The technical and engineering sector faced serious challenges during the pandemic. Business leaders recognized the ever-lasting need for on-site workers while having no option but to accept the pause of work due to mandatory self-isolation. Certain fields of work require constant and direct human supervision and could therefore not exist within the hybrid work model, at least for the time being. 

It is impossible to imagine a power plant with its safety requirements operating according to a hybrid work model. Jobs with higher risks cannot accept new work models entirely in such a short period. Picture a chemical plant without human supervision. It is important to find and eliminate signs of rust on a screw, preventing chemical spills or fumes on a chemical plant for example.

In addition, being able to work remotely is not the obligation of artificial intelligence or an employee sitting at home far away from the plant. Chemical spills or rust on the screw cannot be controlled and eliminated through Zoom or other programs. The stuffers of such industrial plants cannot choose between home and a plant. Therefore, the importance of physical presence is a matter of priority. Such limitations are just the tip of the iceberg on the way to set up a hybrid work.

Healthcare, engineering, and construction industries can be seen as the most challenging sectors as of today. Engineering and construction firms are facing challenges due to a non-existent home network of remote employees because of their bandwidth. People are connected to the applications, but we should realize the pros and cons of such an attitude.

On-Site Demands 

Construction and engineering are both industries where hybrid work would be less of an option. The disconnect is obvious for the construction industry. Modern technology at this point is not versatile enough to build structures via e.g., Zoom or automate construction without psychical supervision. It is far-fetched to believe that the construction industry can entirely operate remotely. However, certain tasks can be delegated to remote visual supervision. However, they are still limited. To physically test a valve or supervise a wall before it is fitted with sheetrock requires the physical presence of a construction specialist. Due to such tasks, this problem should be resolved in every single case. 

Need for Engineering and Technical Staff

The global technical recruitment will keep following the tendency to provide companies with highly skilled staff as it was before the pandemic. However, there will appear a need for new hybrid workers who will be able to meet the flexible work demands of an employer. Depending on the type of work and obligations employer will decide to hire remote contract workers for the engineering and technology sectors soon. 

Digital and physical work execution look different across industries. A recent McKinsey study shows that there is a huge difference regarding the “digitalization” and a shift of stuffers to hybrid working between industries. Financial services and insurance companies nowadays are ready to perform up to 76% of the entire work remotely. Such a “new normal” attitude is still effective for those companies. In contrast, the manufacturing sector can delegate only 19% of work to remote or hybrid setup. The construction industry can delegate 15% at best of the time to hybrid or remote work setup due to the sector specifications.   

The term digital twin becomes the center for the engineering space. It allows managing an operation with remote control. However, the engineers that play an important role in the industry cannot be entirely replaced today.  

Future of Hybrid Work 

Needless to say, we are witnessing the positive impacts of such a work model for companies. Its first positive impact can be seen in a significant cost reduction in space rentals, office supplies, and much more. Many companies have found cost-reducing benefits by reducing traditional in-person components. Employees also find such a work model convenient and more productive since there is no need to work from 9 to 6. Despite the positive impact on many sectors, hybrid working is not the best fit for difficult engineering and technical sectors yet. Companies within these sectors will continue to keep the previous work model due to the importance of not remote or hybrid work, acknowledging the worth of the psychical human factor in the whole process.

Are you currently working remotely? Here is VHR’s guide to working from home.

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