Working from home became a norm after the coronavirus outbreak. Remote work quickly became the solution for many industries, and engineering wasn’t left out.
It was evident from the start that the engineering industry was one of the most unprepared industries to work from home and handle a situation like the Covid-19 pandemic, but they were forced into it either way. The nature of the technology need for their job and their role make engineering the least applicable discipline to work from home.
However, workplace collaboration has changed since the pandemic struck, and the future has come earlier than expected. In a profession like engineering that requires intensive collaboration, it is not hard to see why it is challenging to work from home and the unexpected challenges that robotic engineers especially have had to face.
Challenges that robotic engineers face while working from home
Robotic engineers have had to face several difficulties and brave the odds as they work from home. Apart from the abrupt change in the work environment, the necessary adaptation is facilitated and establishes new team norms. There were also differences in the attitudes towards adopting technology. Lack of access or absence of tools or information is a challenge that they have to deal with. They also have to meet up with their deadlines even though they had little to no face-to-face contact. Add to this the distractions that are at home, especially for those that have caregiving responsibilities.
One of the significant features of a robot design team is their psychological safety. This means that the people on the team have the willingness to take on interpersonal risks. Engineers often establish this psychological safety through one-on-one interactions with team members. However, the shift to work from a home model and a virtual work environment means changing the established norms.
Can engineers work from home successfully?
The simple answer to this question is yes. Engineers can work from home successfully. However, it is not so straightforward. There are different types of engineering, and each one plays various roles. So, there is some engineering genre that is more fitted to work from home than others. For example, computer engineers, software engineers, mechanical engineers, etc., can work from home more efficiently. Technically, all engineering positions that don’t require onsite inspections or those that can have the inspection done through telecommuting can work from home successfully. Of course, some other factors may play out here, such as the company you are working for and if you are the right fit for a remote job. However, engineers can work from home successfully, even robotic engineers.
The remote working ability of individuals also determines if they would be successful at it or not. So it is not a wrong choice for those that are open to it.
As a robotic engineer, you can work from home successfully if you have the right attitude. All you need to do is have your robot at home with you and continue testing and improving it from your home. It may not be that straightforward, but it is not impossible.
Essential skills to work from home as a robotics engineer
A large number of engineers have been forced to work from home due to the pandemic. This has created a new trend in the engineering sector that is likely to extend into the next few years and may become a vital feature of the industry in the future. With remote work becoming more prevalent among the in-demand engineering jobs in 2021, engineers and engineering candidates must have the necessary skill to do their job successfully.
Some of the necessary skills that engineers need to succeed while working from home are:
- Communication: Excellent communication skill is crucial to be effective in any remote working role, and engineering is not any different. Engineers will have to rely on video conference calls, emails, phone calls, and the likes to update their teammates and pass important messages across regularly. This will help them remain at the top of their projects. So robotic engineers that are responsive and can communicate effectively are better suited to work from home.
- Time discipline: Like other salary-paying works, robotics engineers who work from home will be paid for the allotted hours that their bosses stipulate. If the role is the regular 9-5, then the engineer must be ready and present for work during those hours. There is a big possibility that working from home disrupts the average work-life balance. It may also lead to overworking, and the engineers may also be distracted working in their homes. However, it is essential that the engineer working from home can stick to the regular work hours that the job dictates.
- Consistency: Consistency is another primary trait that engineers must have if they will be successful working from home. Although they no longer have their bosses looking over their shoulders, they must be disciplined enough to keep to the quality of work expected of them in a physical work environment. Once the work quality starts to deteriorate because the engineer is working from home, the employers may begin to doubt the ability of the employee to work effectively from home.
- Flexibility: Flexibility has become a significant theme for many organizations since the pandemic. It is a skill that’s also required of robotics engineers that are working from home. Since physical contact is absent and engineers have to work on their own, the organization may use a blended approach. This will offer a flexible agreement that will see the engineering work from home only on certain days and onsite or at the office on other days. This blended approach is one that the engineers must be flexible enough to work with. Either way, the engineer must be transparent with their employers on the work approach they prefer.
How robotics engineers can solve problems and give feedback in a corporate setting without getting together
For robotics engineers to solve problems and give feedback to their team members, psychological safety is necessary. Without this, it would be impossible for the team to work through challenges. In addition, it is easier for team members to have these conversations when there is a sense of trust among them.
Building a psychologically safe team means those members who are different from the rest of the group or do not speak up normally are sought out. These members are encouraged and made to feel comfortable being themselves and their teammates without fear of being punished or rejected when they speak up.
The team leader must be able to carry everyone along. One way to do this is to share an embarrassing story. This has a way of improving creativity and togetherness in the team, compared to when you share an achievement or moment of pride. The team is also more prolific when the team leader shares a story like this.
How robotics engineers can make reliable decisions and innovate products while working from home
Robotics engineers can work successfully in their team through virtual whiteboards and video calls to create conceptual designs. They could hold calls for the sake of refining their concepts. Working from home does not stop robotics engineers from continuing to innovate their products.
Two years ago, very few people would have thought it possible for robotics engineers to work from home, but here we are. Thankfully, it is possible to continue to operate even though they are not in the office environment.
Leon Collier is a blogger and academic writer from the UK. He likes trying new subjects and is always focused on proving his worth as a writer in new and challenging writing areas. His hobbies are reading books and playing tabletop games with his friends. You can reach him via Twitter @LeonCollier12.