The world’s best engineers rely on fast, consistent, accurate communication. But what happens when a global pandemic forces everyone to work from home? How do engineers, used to hands-on collaboration adapt? Is asynchronous communication superior, or real-time interaction over the phone? Does age and experience matter?
Here are two different takes from our sales engineers, Jeremy Klisares and Alex Anderson. Make sure to leave a comment on their LinkedIn accounts… or troll them. Because, why not?
Jeremy Klisares: Fresh engineers VS experienced engineer’s work style.
Do you see the challenges with communication between the different generations of people that I see?
The work-from-home revolution certainly has some fans and dissidents. Regardless of how you personally feel, do you think the disjointed and remote-first workforce benefits engineers? More specifically, optics and micro-optics engineers?
Micro-optics engineers are an astute bunch. A high percentage of younger engineers quickly and easily adapted to remote work, but I’ve noticed it’s difficult to reach them at times. Engineers who have existed in the workforce long communicate differently and are a bit more predictable in their communication.
Allow me to give you an example: fresher engineers seem to prefer a quick text preceding a phone call—some even feel a call can be intrusive. They also seem to be more comfortable with asynchronous work. Engineers who have been in their roles longer, however, prefer to have a quick conversation on the phone. They prefer to work synchronously to work through the problem in real-time. But which is right?
Obviously being fresh in the workforce, or in the workforce a long time doesn’t necessarily translate to better. So which style is better for engineers? Can these two styles work together in harmony? Is there more value in asynchronous work or synchronous work?
Alex Anderson: Is “on time” the new gold standard?
Engineers, did we just hit a problem-solving reset button? I got a response from a client the other day that was appreciated and encouraging but reading between the lines, also concerning. As I speak with teams that are really hungry to learn and build, I have to wonder if we’re going through a collaboration calibration.
Just the other day, my DfMM engineering team and I were thanked for something I later realized was a bit concerning; we hit our target dates. This wasn’t a simple “hey, thanks” message— it was a detailed response on how our ability to stay on time, freed their engineering team to keep pushing forward on new projects. That made us feel incredible, but raised a question…
Did late become the new normal over the last two years?
Because I’m a fast responder to customers and clients, I’ve been hearing from engineers how difficult it is to meet with people, and get responses. Hearing their desire to push forward but feel stuck, have we forgotten how to interact while negotiating/compromising post-COVID?
I also see US sourcing questions becoming more frequent as OEMs tighten their manufacturing supply chains, trying to make them closer to home. This also leads to a communication gap engineers are actively trying to adjust to.
As engineers, I’m curious what you’ve been seeing. Are we going through a great collaboration calibration? What will the results look like? Are you encouraged by what you see or alarmed?
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