Management practices have been evolving over the past 10-15 years to deal with emerging and ongoing recruitment and retention challenges, advances in technology, and the changing values and needs of the workforce. The response to the pandemic also produced an immediate need to adjust and embrace new ways of leading.
The Pandemic’s Impact
In March 2020, the spread of Covid 19 was relentless and businesses scrambled to alter how they delivered products and services to customers while accommodating imposed closures and restrictions. Managers also had to pivot and were immediately faced with the challenge of managing people within a new context (e.g., working remotely). Broadly speaking, the following trends emerged:
- Managing flexible work arrangements
The pandemic introduced the need for managers to shift from seeing work being done to trusting that employees were working, productive and achieving results. Remote work also required managers to be efficient with technology, including online collaboration tools, messaging apps and virtual meeting platforms.
- Increased sensitivity and focus on employee health and wellness
The shift to remote work resulted in employees working in often less-than-ideal workspaces at home. There were added pressures placed on them, including, dealing with home schooling, and navigating increasingly blurred lines between personal and work life. For many there was also an increased sense of being disconnected and lonely. As an ‘essential service’ the trucking and logistics sector has many employees that can’t work from home so there was a heightened stress and anxiety related to contracting the virus.
More than ever, managers are required to assess and provide support to those struggling with the effects of the pandemic. The post-COVID-19 workplace will not look the same either, managers will have to adjust their skillsets accordingly and companies will benefit from supporting these adjustments.
The Impact of Advancing Technology
Advancing technologies will continue to have an impact on trucking and logistics operations.
- The effect of new communication and collaboration tools
Some of the collaboration and communication tools surfacing from the increased adoption of remote work structures can benefit how organizations manage drivers. Technology can enhance how drivers meet and interact with their teams, have their work evaluated, share results, and communicate challenges. Adopting these tools can lead to stronger relationships and higher productivity. Training managers on these tools isn’t generally a one size fits all, meeting managers where they are as it relates to technology is a helpful approach, providing guidance and support as needed.
- Larger candidate pools and diverse workforces
Changed perceptions on where and how we work opens the possibility to attract talent from outside local regions. Governments have been making strides, expanding communication networks so that rural and remote communities have access to the internet and more stable connections. This will increase a company’s ability to hire from these areas. Remote Access to technology can also remove barriers for those populations that have a disability or mobility issues. Technology provides the opportunity to attract and build a more diverse workforce. As a result, managers benefit from building skills and knowledge around diversity and inclusion.
- Improved efficiencies and access to information
Implementation of workforce management systems and the increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) has provided organizations with the enhanced capacity to manage, store and access information about their operations. As platforms evolve, and companies incorporate these practices into their business strategy, managers will benefit from greater access to data and metrics. This allows for improved decision making, increased efficiencies and managing to results.