The Future for Manufacturing Lies in Remote Working and Automation

Our 2020 executive trend, Mobile Leadership is Going Local, highlighted that the number of expat and globally-mobile employees was set to surpass one million by 2021, according to a Finaccord study. In such a fast-changing market, and as business complexity, speed, and global coverage grows, so too does the need for leaders with the right skills and capabilities to drive business performance.

In some business functions, however, the ability to work remotely is limited and this is especially true for those in manufacturing. In light of the Covid-19 global crisis, there has been a significant shift in attitude towards the idea of mobile or remote leadership.

In most cases across the UK, if remote working has been possible, people have been quick to adopt it. But how is this likely to evolve in the future, and could it see the rise of mobile leadership in manufacturing?

Remote Working and Global Leaders: Key Skills for Executives

In the UK, demand for executive talent, both local and global has shown a decline. While a more virtual way of working can support leaders who are operating globally, the focus for businesses hiring has been on finding the right person for the job, regardless of their location.

But what does ‘right’ look like? Business leaders are pondering how to maintain operational readiness, in the event of a future lockdown. Industry 4.0 is upon us and some businesses are embracing new technological investment; in particular, the digitisation of manufacturing processes. Harnessing the effectiveness of this technology will be key, alongside strong leadership.

Whilst there are and will continue to be exceptions, industrials have tended to favour executives with STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The demand for these skills is likely to remain strong and has been consistent for those individuals with high-functioning learning styles, who are able to adapt quickly to changing events in an unpredictable world.

Businesses need to consider how they evolve their operations leadership and harness connected technologies to remain competitive. Similarly, executives need intellectual acuity and to be able to embrace new technology and handle whatever curveball new technology throws at them.


A True Partner in Recruitment: Increased Diligence and Assessments

When hiring in the current climate, providing a comprehensive brief to your search partner is imperative. As face-to-face contact is limited, paying careful attention to candidate ‘due diligence’ is key.

Practicing diligence through increased testing and assessments, regular conversations with candidates, focusing on background and experience, whilst supporting individuals through their notice period, and providing aftercare in onboarding, are now fundamentals to a successful executive search.

Executive search firms need to provide holistic solutions – and businesses need to rely on these resources much more.



If you would like to discuss this topic further, or find out more about current market trends, please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Bill Greenwell

Bill Greenwell
Partner, UK & ROI
[email protected]


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