Versatility Is the Key to the Industry of the Future: How and Why

What if developing versatility was the way to solve the challenges posed by the future of the industry?

It’s no secret that we live in a time of profound and rapid change. Some even talk about the acceleration of time itself.

And if there is one area that is particularly affected by this phenomenon, it’s the manufacturing industry.

In this fast-paced world, industrial companies need to be constantly reconfigured while workers need to develop their skills to keep up and strengthen their employability.

What Is Versatility?

Versatility refers to a way of working in which the traditional divisions between work areas and disciplines are removed and individuals are responsible for a range of tasks.

In short, it means not being assigned all day every day to the same task!

It’s a bit like eating a balanced diet: the key is variety!

Therefore, developing versatility implies developing a range of skills by training or being trained to cover different positions in multiple areas.

What Are the Benefits of Versatility?

A really versatile worker !

Productivity and Flexibility

Versatility is commonly introduced to achieve higher productivity and more efficient use of resources. 

Indeed, greater flexibility in the workforce (the fact that more people can cover a wider range of tasks) can lead to more flexibility in the deployment of workers on the shop floor.

So, Let’s Put It This Way: It’s Great for the Boss!

True… But not just that!

There are a number of other benefits to developing versatility including several that are related to worker health and safety.

Expansion of Responsibilities and Job Enrichment

Versatility provides the opportunity to design workstations and job descriptions where workers use a wider variety of skills! Hence, the expansion of responsibilities.

Additionally, it opens up the possibility of designing workstations and job descriptions based on which workers are more independent and perform some tasks at a higher level! Hello, job enrichment.

Improved Job Satisfaction

Having the opportunity to move through different roles and responsibilities allows workers to better understand the “big picture” and consequently their place in the company’s vision. When we better understand the impact and results of our actions, we’re more motivated. With more motivation, we’re more efficient. When we’re more efficient, we’re more satisfied. There you go!

Reduced Exposure to Risk and Occupational Hazards

Each task and each workstation has its own ergonomic and/or safety specifications. Having the possibility of varying the demands on the body and its exposure to risk is a major factor in preventing and reducing occupational hazards and disorders (in particular the common MSDs: Musculoskeletal Disorders).

How to Integrate Versatility in Your Factory

On paper, it all looks very nice, but how does it work in practice? Well, the answer has a name… Drum roll, please! It’s called training. You won’t be able to escape it unless you’re a rocket scientist, which of course we hope you are.

And to increase your skills, there is nothing better than experience on the shop floor and in real-life situations. Well, you’re in luck, there’s a system for that! They are called Action for Workplace Learning. And you can easily put it in place today. Have a look at these 10 types of employee training to get some ideas!

Great, I Don’t Have to Do Anything. That’s HR’s Job!

Of course, HR will be able to help you (as will Quality Control and Operations). But it is up to you to map the different workstations and tasks. This will allow you to determine the expected requirements for each of them. After that, everything will fall into place!

As for Tools; Is My Only Other Option a Versatility Matrix?

Not always! 

Versatility can be in the mind of the team leader or the shop/operations manager.

They know their team and each of their skills by heart. Well, as long as there aren’t too many people on the team. We’ve seen better ways to share information. Plus you have to cross your fingers that they don’t break both arms on the way out. Apart from that, let’s be open-minded, it can work!

Another alternative: the famous Excel versatility matrix.

Be sure to pair it with the pile of papers that weigh a ton, take up space and are about as boring as an old episode of a detective show.

Jokes aside, let’s face it, Excel works too. We have a template you can download here.

Disclaimer: We are not responsible when you complain about updating it at 11 pm the day before an audit or when the macros you developed no longer work.

What about the Technology? Yes we are in the 21st century, no ?

What if I told you that with one less letter—well okay, plus another one and some rearranging—you can get from “Excel” to “Alex”.

Sure, but What Difference Does It Make?

As a mobile app, Alex fits in your pocket, unlike your computer + Excel. Alex is accessible to everyone (from the operator to the CEO). It can be used anytime and anywhere, especially from the shop floor. And, of course, there is also a web version for ultimate convenience.

The best way to learn more is to give it a try (it’s free).

Don’t wait another minute!