In the life of manufacturing or traditional companies, the reality is real – nothing is virtual about what they do. It is not only the tangible product that they manufacture but the people interaction, alchemy that goes into that is also real, concrete. It is a tradition honored ‘print & noticeboard’ culture. Be it in the manufacturing floor, planners, stores, every activity has its real life, people interface and that is how it is ‘traditional’ from the lens of a digital organization that mostly confines itself to the work desk and the screens. There, screens do most of the talking and interactions, whereas in brick-mortar companies, the real face interface is the common denominator.
Well, digital life has never been an impervious wall for manufacturing companies either – to stay totally away from the influence of digital culture. While the penetration of digitization has varied widely across the spectrum, I know of companies that had well disseminated digital culture – be it visitor management at the gate to validate a visitor to ‘office communicator’ for intra-organizational communication were well accepted and were normal. It was like the aroma of the neighborhood penetrating into your culture and the in-culturalization has happened even without you speaking about it. The beauty is nobody called it ‘Digital’ it was useful and it made the real work-life much simpler and engaging. I feel this is the beauty of it – you never marked it as ‘Digital’ and created an aura around it; you assimilated it into your way of life and it was a Happy mix of what tech could offer. Thus, it added to the glue of employees engagement with their organization and interactions, seamlessly.
And one fine day, you wake up to the reality of curtailed human interactions, we realized that life has change – the very ground that had given you the sense of camaraderie had slipped from beneath your feet. Though the news of impending risk has been in the media for some time, nobody ever imagined that it will be this drastic ‘a lock-down’ that would separate you from the campus that was hub of life for most of us. As much as the work, I hear people say they miss the very hum-drum of being in the thick of the action.
Well, the reality has been accepted and no time was lost to ensure that we stay connected, engaged and focussed on what we have to do now and in the future, once the storm passes away. Smartphone tools & applications have been a great help as a short & quick communication means along with the mails. There has been no dearth of people sharing with humor, quizzes, puzzles, stories that is keeping the exchange alive & engaging.
I was quite thrilled to hear that the lockdown time has been used to engage employees to deliver training and learning content. Notwithstanding the initial difficulties to get all on board now, the program is running well, with daily learning nuggets, focussed training contents on specialized areas etc. The shared platform makes it quite interesting and competitive as well for all participants. I understand that the interaction quality is well comparable to a physical session. To a large extent, the learning process was driven as a ‘community learning’ model. Subject matter experts from, within the group were asked to come forward and share their knowledge and expertise in whatever best way possible. This decentralized model of learning delivery not only encouraged others to come forward but also enhanced commitment and last but not the least, it brought down the burden on the key resource personnel who were not prepared for the long haul
Lockdown has not stopped life, though it dented the spirit initially. On the digital media platform there is no dearth of recipes shared by the colleagues with photos and pride. Believe me, you do not have to give motivating words, counsel, etc. The sheer engagements as a ‘team’ does the magic. Of course, the role of the moderator is crucial in driving the interactions in a healthy direction so that focus is diffused from negative, fear creating information, chats, etc. To this extent, HR should be very watchful in its role directly and through key employees who are motivated within and skilled communicators.
It may be worthy to share here that these are times that we rise to the need of our fellow men who need. One of my peers shared the story as to how they mobilized employees remotely to come together and contribute in helping needy people in a locality in this need of the hour. I am told that the news and video of the whole social engagement has made a great impact among the employees and the mind share that they carry. This incident has brought ‘touch & feel’ experience through the virtual world.
It may not be ubiquitous, yet traditional companies are fast adopting and digital culture and leveraging on it in these times of social distancing to stay engaged as a team on their goals and not to lose on the future that is ahead when the life returns to normalcy. The enabling capability of digital technology is quite impressive in this regard and I believe it will help in further penetration of digital culture in the manufacturing.