Adapting to Remote Work in Traditional Industries

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Evelyn LongEditor-in-Chief at Renovated

Friday, November 26, 2021

The widespread adoption of remote work can be challenging for companies in traditional industries, but there are a few steps that can make the switch smoother.

Article 5 Minutes
Adapting to Remote Work in Traditional Industries

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe, virtually all businesses were forced to move at least a portion of their employees to a work-from-home setup.

This sudden transition was easier for companies that already had significant technological adoption among their employees. However, working from home isn’t as feasible in some sectors and not as straightforward for many workers.

Companies that initially held out on remote work early in the pandemic may no longer have an option, though. Recent polls found that 44% of Americans prefer working from home and would like it to continue even after COVID-19 subsides. Younger employees are even more likely to opt for remote work, with 55% of millennials saying they are concerned about returning to the office.

More companies in traditional industries like construction and manufacturing are adopting remote work options. Here’s how to make it smoother for employers and their team members.

1. Try new technologies

Trying out new technologies is crucial for adapting to new standards for remote work options. Some companies may be hesitant to offer work-from-home because they aren’t sure where to start, what platforms to use, or what equipment and software they need.

It can be easy to get swallowed up by research on all these questions. While examining options is an important step, eventually, eventually you will have to try out an initial remote work strategy.

If things don’t work at first, troubleshoot and ask for feedback from employees to adjust and optimize the work-from-home platform. Starting with a smaller test group of employees may be helpful, allowing more control for tweaking things before opening up remote work options to everyone.

To truly embrace work-from-home and unlock the potential benefits it offers, businesses must be open to new kinds of technology, from videoconferencing software to new laptops to cybersecurity infrastructure.

2. Seek more young hires

Young people are much more likely to prefer working from home. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since millennials and Gen Z are more comfortable with technology than older generations.

Tapping into the hiring pool in these younger demographics is more essential than ever before for traditional industries, particularly those facing an aging workforce. For example, construction has been grappling with a persistent labor shortage for the last several years, with industry experts exploring ways to incentivize young people, women and other underrepresented groups to participate in shifting the makeup of the construction labor pool.

To attract more young new hires, companies in traditional industries may need to adapt to the career ideals of millennials and Gen Z. Potential employees in younger age segments will be more likely to connect with companies where technology is mainstream and up to date. Additionally, hiring more young people will increase overall digital dexterity, making it even more likely they will be interested in joining the team.

Attracting younger generations to traditional industries is critical for survival and growth. Taking the risk on a less experienced but equally qualified young hire will pay off in the long run.

3. Prioritize safety

Remote work became popular as a way to help keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of late 2021, COVID-19 remains a major concern worldwide, especially in light of the spread of the delta variant. Vaccination rates are slowly increasing in the U.S., but safety should remain a priority in traditional industries.

Safety should be at the center of any remote work transition for employees moving to work-from-home and those continuing to work in-person. Prioritizing hygiene, mask mandates and other standard COVID-19 safety practices is one of the top tips for construction and other traditional industries.

Not all positions are viable for work-from-home models, so these steps are crucial for keeping employees safe and healthy. Open communication with employees is also must since laborers need to be able to report symptoms or severe health concerns. Certain conditions put some people at greater risk of severe illness than others.

4. Be considerate about who goes remote

Companies should have a clear strategy for making the switch to remote work as smooth as possible. Leaders in traditional industries should keep in mind that their employees may be reluctant about using newer technologies, so training programs might be needed. Even in more digitally dexterous companies, people may not be aware of the unique challenges of working from home.

Employers in traditional industries can help their team members transition by taking a structured, intentional approach. Consider which employees would be best-suited to remote work or even share a poll so those who want to try working from home can easily speak up.

Some people may also have unique health concerns that make COVID-19 a greater risk for them. These workers may need to be prioritized for switching to work-from-home if feasible. 

5. Test out a hybrid model

If there’s one thing employers and employees alike have learned since the start of the pandemic, it’s that remote work is not one-size-fits-all. A fully remote workforce often isn’t feasible for traditional industries, either. After all, construction can’t be done with all employees working from home. The nature of the industry requires at least a portion of team members to come to a physical location to perform their jobs.

However, some roles can certainly benefit from remote work in terms of productivity as well as safety. Hybrid work models may be the perfect solution for traditional industries. In this workplace, some employees work from home while others come to work like normal every day.

Some companies also allow remote employees to blend working from home with working from the office. A hybrid system is highly flexible, which enables it to easily fit the needs of industries like construction and manufacturing.

Adaptation and growth in old-school industries

While adapting to remote work may be challenging and even frustrating initially, committing to the adjustment will enable greater opportunities for growth down the road. Remote work provides flexibility for even the most reluctant of industries to give it a try.

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Evelyn Long

Editor-in-Chief at Renovated

https://renovated.com/

Evelyn is the editor-in-chief of Renovated, a web magazine for the home industry. Her work has been published by the National Association of REALTORS®, NCCER and other prominent industry resources.

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