“Even in times of crisis, the need to communicate across borders still exist[s]. But a global crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic requires an unprecedented level of global cooperation and coordination, in which case translation and language services serve as the foundation to it all.”
Manufacturing Shifts Toward a Stronger, More Connected Workforce
Manufacturing Challenges Post-COVID-19
Just about every industry under the sun has had to face immediate changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and manufacturing is certainly no exception. In fact, we could argue that the pandemic has caused massive disruption to the global manufacturing industry. Not only did some manufacturers immediately switch gears in order to produce and distribute COVID-19-related equipment and products, but many also found themselves scrambling to keep floor workers safe and remote workers engaged. If that wasn’t already challenging enough, the pandemic also caused immediate shifts in consumer behavior along with closed borders, further complicating an already problematic supply chain.
As the world gradually climbs out of the pandemic that has gripped us for over a year, many of these challenges remain while new ones have surfaced.
Shifting Workforce Culture
In addition to regulatory safety compliance (OSHA) and upskilling, the Manufacturing Research Council’s latest M4.0 Cultures Survey identified remote working strategies as one of the top challenges that have been significantly, permanently, or at least temporarily impacted by COVID-19. In much the same vein, PwC conducted a survey in June and July of 2020, asking “699 CEOs [about] emerging business models and key trends resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”1 When asked if low-density workplaces would remain post-COVID-19, an overwhelming 60% of respondents from around the world believed it would be an enduring shift.
Data Source: PwC
Remote working presents a great many benefits to both employees and employers alike. Aside from the obvious benefits of less overhead expenses and lower carbon footprint, when presented with almost no geographical limitations, employers have access to a greater pool of talent. For employees, saving commuting time and costs alone is an invaluable benefit. Many employees also report an improvement in their overall well-being, translating to increased productivity.
The challenge, however, is keeping remote employees engaged and finding innovative ways to ensure they remain active members of the corporate culture. This all boils down to effective communication. And for companies with a linguistically diverse workforce, communicating via remote working environments can become a little complicated.
Changing Consumer Behaviors
“Companies that develop a nuanced understanding of the changed beliefs, peak moments, and habits of their target consumer bases — and adjust their product offerings, customer experiences, and marketing communications accordingly — will be best positioned to thrive in the next normal.”2
Even one full year after the onset of COVID-19, our daily routines continue to be upended. From mandated lockdowns and business closures to social distancing and travel restrictions, the world is just not the same — not by a longshot. All of this upheaval has naturally led to how consumers behave. 2020 saw an increase, for instance, in digitized home workout services, telehealth, grocery delivery services, and online shopping. And these shifts aren’t just happening at home but across geographic markets and demographic groups.
Data Source: McKinsey & Company
Clearly, the growing need to communicate online with customers from all over the world presents new multilingual challenges for manufacturers.
Shifting Supply Chains
“More than 80 [percent] of [organizations] have reported their supply chains being negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, with a vast majority struggling across all aspects of their operations.”
COVID-19 has shone a direct spotlight on an already complicated global manufacturing supply chain. Manufacturers with a heavy reliance on one particular region, for instance — and certainly those with a single factory and/or supplier — are now looking to diversify in order to insulate themselves from future disruptions and crises.
In its effort to learn how prepared organizations would survive if a similar global crisis were to occur again, the Capgemini Research Institute “surveyed 1,000 organizations from the consumer products, retail, discrete manufacturing, and life sciences sectors [and] conducted a range of in-depth interviews with senior supply chain executives.”5 Among many fascinating insights, the survey revealed that 68% of organizations are actively investing in diversifying their supplier base — and that means a greater need for communication across languages and cultures.
Data Source: Capgemini Research Institute
As the manufacturing world faces these new challenges head-on, specialized language services can help in recovery.
How Specialized Language Services Can Help in COVID-19 Recovery
As global markets begin the arduous task of recovering from the latest pandemic, manufacturers worldwide will face unprecedented production demands. Depleted stocks across industries will need to be replenished, postponed elective surgeries will likely be rescheduled, and delayed purchases will now be made. As Jerry Haar, a professor of International Business at Florida International University puts it, “pent-up demand is going to be huge and is going to be driving all economies forward.”6 How can manufacturers ready their workforce to ensure they satisfy the increased demand?
According to research from the Chief Learning Officer, “it seems the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of trends already in place — most notably, e-learning delivery.”7
Data Source: Chief Learning Officer
While eLearning courses will help advance the skills of your workforce, organizations wishing to ready their employees for an expected spike in production should also consider localizing their eLearning materials. Why? Because a linguistically and culturally diverse workforce helps manufacturing companies compete more successfully at home and abroad. In the United States alone, not only do “65 million residents speak a language other than English (40% with limited or no English proficiency) [but] globally 96% of the world’s consumers and two-thirds of its purchasing power reside outside U.S. borders.”8. By hiring and training a diverse workforce, your company will be in an optimal position to compete successfully in the new normal. But that’s not the only reason.
As we’ve mentioned before, manufacturing is one of the top industries that employ immigrants, a significant percentage of whom have limited English proficiency (LEP). When your eLearning materials are professionally localized, you boost production and help to mitigate the risks of workplace injuries.
Specialized Translation and Interpreting Services
From employee handbooks and safety data sheets (MSDS) to human resources documentation, investing in professional translation services will help you effectively communicate with your employees, helping those whose first language is not English to feel included as valued members of your team. Translation services also break down communication barriers for manufacturers expanding operations overseas or increasing sales across borders.
Along the same lines, interpreting services help individuals feel heard and understood within business settings. By providing clarity and transparency during your business negotiations, conference meetings, training sessions, market research focus groups, and more, you will gain your target market’s trust and loyalty.
Luckily, Vocalink Global offers a comprehensive suite of language solutions for the manufacturing industry.
Vocalink’s Specialized Language Services for the Manufacturing Industry
As the global economy turns a corner away from the challenges and devastation of COVID-19, we are witnessing an upward trajectory. As credit becomes more readily available and interest rates drop, dynamic growth is sure to follow. Manufacturing firms that prepare their workforce now will take full advantage of the quickly approaching influx in demand.
As a leading global provider of specialized language services for the manufacturing industry, Vocalink Global’s team of “Insiders” will help you strengthen your diverse workforce and expand into new markets. Offering a worldwide team with world-class training, our native-language linguists deliver specialized translation, interpreting, and eLearning localization services in more than 275 languages. Let our Insiders ensure you, your employees, and your partners are heard and understood.
Connect with Vocalink Global today.
1 How Business Can Emerge Stronger. PwC, 2020, www.pwc.com/gx/en/ceo-agenda/ceo-panel-survey-emerge-stronger.pdf.
2 “Understanding and Shaping Consumer Behavior in the Next Normal.” McKinsey & Company, McKinsey & Company, 11 Dec. 2020, www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/understanding-and-shaping-consumer-behavior-in-the-next-normal.
3,4 “How COVID-19 Has Pushed Companies over the Technology Tipping Point–and Transformed Business Forever.” McKinsey & Company, McKinsey & Company, 18 Feb. 2021, www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/how-covid-19-has-pushed-companies-over-the-technology-tipping-point-and-transformed-business-forever.
5 “Fast Forward – Rethinking Supply Chain Resilience for a Post-COVID-19 World.” Capgemini Research Institute, Capgemini Research Institute, 2020, www.capgemini.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Fast-forward_Report.pdf.
6 ASCOAonline. “Building Post-COVID Supply Chains: Japan and the Americas.” YouTube, YouTube, 12 Mar. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=KILi33Gs8iQ.
7 John, Ashley St. “The Rise of e-Learning.” Chief Learning Officer – CLO Media, 17 July 2020, www.chieflearningofficer.com/2020/07/17/the-rise-of-e-learning/.
8 Industry Week. StackPath, www.industryweek.com/talent/article/21119730/are-manufacturers-losing-out-on-business-due-to-lack-of-language-skills.
In addition to:
The World Financial Review, 15 Dec. 2020, worldfinancialreview.com/post-covid-19-globalization-will-translation-and-localization-still-be-relevant/.
“COVID-19: A Catalyst for M4.0 Culture.” Manufacturing Leadership Council, 30 Mar. 2021, www.manufacturingleadershipcouncil.com/2021/03/30/covid-19-a-catalyst-for-m4-0-culture/.
“The Future of Work in Manufacturing.” Deloitte Insights, www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/manufacturing/future-of-work-manufacturing-jobs-in-digital-era.html.
“Supply Chain Resilience Is a Priority after COVID-19: Digital Supply Chain: Supply Chain Digital.” Digital Supply Chain | Supply Chain Digital, www.supplychaindigital.com/supply-chain-2/supply-chain-resilience-priority-after-covid-19.
“How COVID-19 Has Pushed Companies over the Technology Tipping Point–and Transformed Business Forever.” McKinsey & Company, McKinsey & Company, 18 Feb. 2021, www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/how-covid-19-has-pushed-companies-over-the-technology-tipping-point-and-transformed-business-forever.