How will the 'new normal' affect the manufacturing industry?
The pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way the world does business. While the corporate world and service-based businesses are looking at ways to benefit from remote workforces, LaForge encourages restraint for manufacturing businesses like Mactac.
Mactac shifted to remote working wherever they could very early on. Employees who could work from home were asked to do so while staff members who operated machinery continued to work on-site. While working from home continues to be the norm currently for back office employees, Mactac’s leadership team has also been honest: the company can't – and doesn't want – to adopt a fully remote working model in the long-term.
'We're 100% supportive of allowing our employees who can work from home to do so during these challenging times so they can look after and take care of their families as needed. Long-term, however, we have to be realistic: we're a manufacturing company, and we need our people on-site. That's the truth of the way we do business. For companies like us where innovation and progression give a competitive advantage, the importance of connectivity, in-person brainstorming and coffee pot chat can't be overlooked,' says LaForge.
While permanent home working policies aren't on the cards, Mactac does see the benefits in some flexibility, with LaForge encouraging employees to talk to their managers about how to be more effective in return for more work-life balance, although being fair and offering everyone the same opportunities remains a priority.
To keep staff safe, Mactac’s leadership team sent their workforce home ahead of mandatory work from home orders in the state of Ohio. Making quick decisions like this also became a trademark of the team.
Even under the new circumstances, LaForge wanted to maintain contact with his team: connectivity and communication were paramount. The leadership team had a rolling one-hour appointment at 11 am every day to discuss updates, review the situation, have difficult conversations and determine what was best for the business. It's something the leadership team benefited from, and the meetings remain in place today, although less regularly.
‘Currently, we're meeting twice a week rather than every day, but meeting daily at the peak of the crisis was crucial for us. It brought the leadership team and the company a sense of purpose during a challenging time. The meetings were the basis of our response to 'lean in' to the opportunities presented to us. We reaped the reward of that as a business,' says LaForge.
Across the company Mactac’s teams were meeting in similar fashion, working cross-functionally and diving in to solve problems and challenges, while quickly adapting to the changing environment. LaForge says it has been a very cooperative approach to problem-solving.
Investing to become a better business
Despite the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and potential for a global recession, Mactac is choosing to follow through with strategic investments that will support the future of the company and its customers. It is moving forward with implementing an ERP system and investing back in the business, funding employee training and equipment. Again, the company's strategy has been to ‘lean in’ to the pandemic, rather than trying to outrun it.
Mactac reassessed costs carefully, cutting any excess expenses. Instead of focusing on cost-cutting for short-term gain by laying off employees, and Mactac is investing in the company and the staff with an outlook to set the company up for even greater success in the long run. 'Instead of furloughing staff, we are spending money to train employees, and we're giving bonuses to those working on-site. In return for job security, we've asked the team to commit to an adventure to reinvent the business. People do want to reinvent themselves, and, of course, there's also understanding that the economy isn't in great shape, and innovation and reinforcing the business is the best way to protect their job. As a result of our commitment to keeping the team employed, we see a lot of goodwill from employees, and simultaneously the business is benefiting from renewed productivity, focus and drive. The “Mactac first” culture is shining.