Advantages Of Flexible Working In Manufacturing


Flexible working – UK manufacturers discuss opportunities for implementing innovative practices

Nigel Wright’s webinar brought together HR Leaders from the UK food and drink sectors to discuss how businesses are responding to an increased demand for flexible working solutions within manufacturing. Attendees highlighted how the COVD-19 pandemic has accelerated this labour market trend by forcing companies to rethink the dynamics of factory work.

You can read the full report here.

Manufacturers test flexible working practices during COVID-19

A general discussion around flexibility in the workplace revealed how a traditional unwillingness to consider flexible working hours, has evaporated since the onset of COVID-19. Forced to adapt to lockdown measures and other pandemic-related UK government restrictions, companies have been innovative around types of flexible working solutions offered to production staff. This ensured business continuity during a challenging period. They included:

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Challenges of implementing flexible working within manufacturing

While these solutions were acknowledged as examples of flexible working best practice, HR Leaders were clear that no right or wrong approach exists. Each business, they agreed, has its unique challenges, as well as employees with different needs. Therefore, only a bespoke (rather than one size fits all) model, will work.

The disadvantages of workplace flexibility were also raised, in particular, the danger of communication breakdown if employees work remotely, as well as a potential negative impact on employee mental health. And there are, of course, several other associated challenges of flexible work arrangements within production facilities (e.g. the ability to work from home all the time). Despite this, HR Leaders were determined to conceive flexible working initiatives that achieved the right balance, while challenging the traditional concept of factory work.

Advantages of flexible working in manufacturing

HR Leaders agreed that the benefits of utilising initiatives such as staggered working days, for example, far outweigh the potential disadvantages of flexible working overall. By experimenting with the types of flexible working options outlined above, those who attended our webinar were confident they could create a flexible working strategy that met the needs of the workforce and the business. Some of the key topics of discussion focused around:

The key message that emerged from the webinar was the likely impact of adopting flexible working practices on talent attraction and retention. HR Leaders acknowledged how factory employees appreciated efforts made to address their needs in line with broader flexible working trends. Consequently, job satisfaction and engagement, as well as retention, has improved. A flexible working USP will further facilitate talent acquisition while boosting diversity and creating better opportunities for carer progression.

Overall, HR leaders expressed a positive outlook for the future, taking the view that COVID-19 will fundamentally change how and where people work.

Benefits of flexible working within manufacturing

About Nigel Wright Group

Nigel Wright specialises in the appointment of permanent and interim commercial and operations professionals for national and international FMCG, consumer products and consumer services companies. We recruit disciplines ranging from marketing, sales, supply chain & procurement, engineering & manufacturing, finance, HR and general management/executives.

We work alongside small family consumer & FMCG businesses as well as global blue-chip companies, supporting them in the recruitment and development of executive through to middle/junior management talent. Our UK Consumer & FMCG recruitment consultants are based in either our London, Newcastle upon Tyne or Teesside office. We also have offices across Europe.

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Our clients trust us to quickly attract the highest calibre and most suitable candidates the first time.

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To discuss our research on flexible working within manufacturing, or your hiring needs in general, please contact one of our recruitment team members.