As I type this sitting at home during England’s third (and hopefully final) lockdown, it’s clear how the pandemic has altered life in ways that few of us could have imagined just over a year ago. Remote-working, something which once seemed the sole prerogative of those working at Silicon Valley giants like Google, has become the norm for millions of employees around the world.
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How long and widespread these changes will remain once restrictions are lifted is yet to be seen, after all, the jury is still out on exactly how effective remote-working is. Whilst the benefits are clear for employees (no commute, more time with family, etc.), the impact on productivity is still unclear – some studies suggest that remote-workers actually put more time into their jobs than their commuting counterparts, yet others show remote working can lead to a decline in productivity over the long-term.
Some major companies have already rejected the idea of a permanent switch to remote working. Goldman Sachs is one example, with CEO David Solomon saying: “I do think for a business like ours, which is an innovative, collaborative apprenticeship culture, this is not ideal for us. And it’s not a new normal. It’s an aberration that we’re going to correct as soon as possible.” Of particular concern to Solomon was how an incoming ‘class’ of 3000 new recruits would fare without the direct mentorship that they could have expected to receive just over a year ago. It’s certainly hard to argue against the fact that it’s much easier for established employees to adapt to remote-working than new recruits who may have never even met their team in the flesh!
With all this said, however, Solomon did state that the pandemic had forced the adoption of digital technologies and created new ways for the investment bank to run more efficiently. Indeed, perhaps the real, long-lasting change we’ll see from this pandemic is not widespread, long-term remote-working, but rather the increased willingness for companies to update their processes and adopt digital solutions.
This issue of World Cement includes a number of articles looking at how digital solutions involving AI, APC software, Industry 4.0, etc., can optimise the production of cement, enhancing both quality and output levels. Make sure to take a look at the ‘Software, Automation & Process Control’ feature, starting on pg 57, to hear from experts at ABB, Rockwell Automation, CTP Team, ES Processing, and Axians IAS.
Speaking of optimisation and the adoption of new technologies, make sure to register to attend our upcoming online conference: EnviroTech 2021. Focusing on the technologies and processes designed to reduce the cement industry’s environmental footprint, this free-to-attend online conference takes place on 20 – 21 April. Sign up today to secure your access to expert presentations from LafargeHolcim, FLSmidth, Votorantim Cimentos, BEUMER Group, and many more. For more information, or to register, head over to: www.worldcement.com/envirotech2021