The needs of office-based staff (‘Suits’) and those working in an industrial or manufacturing environment (‘Boots’) are often seen as very different. And they are. But it’s not just where they work – it’s their whole outlook on what ‘work’ actually is. Often these opposite-end-of-the spectrum approaches can foster a ‘them and us’ mentality.
However, regardless of whether they employ knowledge or skilled workers – or both – modern enterprises are realising that these divides need to be bridged. Collaboration between them is crucial; and the IT infrastructure needed to ensure both work effectively is one and the same. In fact, it can be a unifying force in many cases.
Let’s consider what both are up against.
Widening Workplace Gaps
For knowledge workers – whether they’re marketers, project managers, finance, or HR professionals – actually being physically present in an office 100% of the time is no longer essential. Thanks to cloud services, single-sign on, BYOD, and collaboration platforms; they can work from anywhere with an internet connection.
However, no such luxuries exist for those working in factories or production locations. Being on-site all the time is critical – even with ruggedized and explosion-free tools. But factory staff need to be recognised as part of the same company team. Not only that, but the increased reliance on technology in industrial processes and machinery operation with bad mobile network coverage, means that they now need the IT tools to enable them to do their jobs.
While it’s a given that ‘HQ’ workers need access to software like Microsoft 365 to perform their work; the increasing importance of real-time data in manufacturing places an even greater emphasis on that part of the business having access to a robust, company-wide IT infrastructure.
For example, the IT department will instigate and deploy technology-driven solutions like connected sensors, smart monitors, or other forms of IoT or AI. However, that doesn’t change the fact that when these are placed in an industrial environment, it’s down to those on the ground to ensure they’re working as they should be. In fact they’re the ones who know what ‘good’ should look like in their workplace.
As a result, broadening the range of IT services a company has access to, as part of a digital transformation initiative, relies on greater collaboration between both sections of the business – to get the insight needed to make everything work more efficiently.
A Unifying Force
IT should unite people and organisations. Everyone in a company should have access to the same basic tools that other departments do. But it’s not just a case of being ‘fair’ to everyone: there’s a core business need underpinning this. The greater the demands for efficiency, safety, and compliance; the more transparent companies need to be. Having a real-time overview of every process being carried out is becoming a necessity for manufacturing as well as for other companies.
From a social perspective, collaboration reduces resentment and builds trust. When everyone feels like they’re working for a common cause and has an understanding of what their colleagues are doing; more trust is built and barriers are removed – which makes employee engagement and authentic communication a whole lot easier.
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