The latest trends in business are closely connected with the globalization era as more production supply chains now extend across national boundaries. Furthermore, more production strategies such as outsourced and remote production became available with the technological development of reliable supervision methods. The COVID-19 pandemic marked a significant increase in the number of remote jobs in accordance with the social distancing policies. Remote workspaces allow an easier process of operations management, continuing the globalization trend in post-COVID conditions.
Firstly, the integration of remote work in operations management is closely associated with the concept of the fourth industrial revolution. The fourth industrial revolution implies the widespread integration of cyber technologies in the manufacturing process and distribution of products. In addition, the implementation of technologies requires support from increased automation of production processes and high speed of data exchange. Remote jobs favor the changes in existing production technologies, making them more suitable for the eventual digitalization of manufacturing (Doyle & Cosgrove, 2019). Thus, remote jobs create demand for the integration of digital technologies into the production process. When clients and production managers will have the ability to access automatic real-time reports, it will mark a significant step in the development of the manufacturing industry.
Next, while the COVID-19 pandemic had significant negative consequences for the economy and many people lost their jobs, the pandemic induced many businesses to switch to remote mode. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (2020), companies should have moved some work positions to remote mode a long time ago but could not do it because of coordination difficulties. It is suggested that the majority of companies will continue to improve the work of remote work as they have already made the necessary financial investments during the pandemic (National Bureau of Economic Research, 2020). The existing research on the influence of remote work flexibility suggests a strong connection with organizational performance if it is supported by top management (Chatterjee et al., 2022). Thus, the overall operations management industry will experience a leap in development in post-COVID conditions because many businesses will continue to develop remote work.
Furthermore, remote work brought significant changes to the labor market post-COVID. According to the analysis conducted by Lund et al. (2020), the finance and insurance sector has the highest potential for remote work, while manufacturing, transportation, and construction all have significantly lower potential. Moreover, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research (2020), the chances of moving to remote work are much higher in sectors where employees have high education levels and more female workers. Considering that manufacturing industry employees are primarily male and the vast majority have a low education level, implementing remote jobs in manufacturing may take a long time. However, the characteristics of workers in the manufacturing industry may change after the transition to more advanced automated equipment.
Lastly, the widespread integration of remote working draws attention to the existing human resource management policies and their discrepancy with the digital economy. For example, according to Aloisi and de Stefano (2022), the policies should address the use of specific digital tools by employees working in remote jobs, supervisory mechanisms, and improvements in performance report procedures. Furthermore, the management and supervision of remote workers’ engagement in organizational and personal matters during work time pose a question of ethics for human resource managers (Donnelly & Johns). Thus, some organizations may focus on HR analytics, while others can prioritize evaluating employees’ labor outcomes. In operations management, the choice of supervision method will make a big difference because it will determine the productivity of the manufacturing process.
Thus, the increased number of remote jobs supported by COVID-19 social distancing policies significantly influences business operations management. Production and distribution processes become increasingly complex, and in globalized conditions, their digitalization was only a matter of time. Remote jobs support the technological development of production equipment and operations. However, remote work raises questions about existing human resource management practices and their inconsistency with the conditions of the digital economy.
Aloisi, A., & de Stefano, V. (2022). Essential jobs, remote work and digital surveillance: Addressing the COVID-19 pandemic panopticon. International Labour Review, 161(2), 289-314. Web.
Chatterjee, S., Chaudhuri, R., & Vrontis, D. (2022). Does remote work flexibility enhance organization performance? Moderating role of organization policy and top management support. Journal of Business Research, 139, 1501-1512. Web.
Donnelly, R., & Johns, J. (2020). Recontextualising remote working and its HRM in the digital economy: An integrated framework for theory and practice. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 32(1), 84-105. Web.
Doyle, F., & Cosgrove, J. (2019). Steps towards digitization of manufacturing in an SME environment. Procedia Manufacturing, 38, 540-547. Web.
Lund, S., Madgavkar, A., Manyika, J., & Smit, S. (2020). What’s next for remote work: An analysis of 2,000 tasks, 800 jobs, and nine countries. McKinsey Global Institute. Web.
National Bureau of Economic Research. (2020). What jobs are being done at home during the Covid-19 crisis? Evidence from firm-level surveys. Web.