Adaptability Is The Key

One of the most interesting things I have learned during the past ten months is that people are actually doing better work by not physically going to work. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is ultimately no substitute for being at work, but then again, many people have found that they could be much more productive on their own time.

This started me thinking about why this is the case? Why is it that some people have done so well working remotely? I think this warrants further study for a number of reasons, not the least being that it is so much easier to hire people remotely, than it is having to hire locally. 

In our industry for example, CAM operators have always been hard to come by when trying to hire them locally. With the reduction in the number of PCB shops in this country, many areas of the country have less than three PCB companies which makes it even more difficult to find talented, experienced, front end engineers and CAM operators. And unfortunately, this is not a level of position that warrants relocating people.

Even though for years some companies have been using independent engineering services from offshore, this is not something that all companies, especially ITAR companies could do.

But what has happened over this past year is that companies have had to improvise, and this meant that they have had to open up their minds to more creative solutions, such as hiring remote CAM operators, which in the end has proven to be a blessing in disguise.

Another added bonus to this development is that the companies have been able to “rent” rather than “buy” CAM operators. They have been able to engage them as contractors, using them for overload situations. 

This has also benefited the CAM operators, as a number of them have embraced the idea of being independent contractors, starting their own small companies, allowing them to work for a number of companies at the same time. This has created a win/win situation for both parties.

According to the CAM people I have spoken to, they are much more productive. They are able to work without interruption, they are able to work on their own schedule, and most importantly they are able to turn out more work and earn more money. And, with the added bonus of enjoying a freedom they have never had before. They are unencumbered by frequent interruptions, unnecessary meetings, and of course no long and unproductive commutes.

But these professions are not the only ones that can be done remotely. What applies to CAM Operators, also applies to Customer Service people, marketing people, and salespeople, as well, most of whom I have found to be greatly energized by not having to go into the office and submit themselves to someone else’s schedule as well.

Now I know that working remotely is not for everyone. To be successful one has to be a self-starter; has to be organized, and has to be ambitious, not to mention creative. Yes, I will admit that there are some people who are completely lost without their days laid out in front of them by someone else. But I am not sure I am that sympathetic to those people, at least this pandemic has made me look at them with a more critical eye.

Let’s take salespeople for example. By the very definition of their position, they should have all the same qualities that would seem to make them successful working on their own. And yes, many of the ones I work with have not only risen to the occasion that this pandemic has caused, but actually thrived as well. But then again there have been some, albeit a minority, who have been completely baffled by the challenge of selling without being able to visit customers.

While some salespeople have come up with innovative and creative ways to succeed during these hard times, others have sort of acted like the proverbial turtle on its’ back, legs flailing, with no plan or place to go. From them we only hear all of the reasons that can’t make their numbers, all of them having to do with Covid. 

I find this to be disappointing. Maybe it’s because in my biased mind I have always looked at sales- people as the smartest, and most creative, people in the company. The people who always find a way no matter what the market conditions are. I have often compared them to the old wagon train scout who would ride ahead so that he could keep the wagon master apprised of what was coming up, what challenges they would have to overcome to get to their destination.

But like with all segments of the population, there  are different kinds of salespeople. There is not much we can do about that. But one thing this pandemic has shown us, is that in business, as in life, success will always go to those who are able to adapt. To those who are able to embrace change, to those who are able to find a way to win no matter what cards they have been dealt. And I don’t know about you but those are the people I want on my team. It’s only common sense.

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