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Powered by the Possibilities of a New Workforce Dynamic
The changing fabric of our modern workforce
Powered by the Possibilities of a New Workforce Dynamic
The changing fabric of our modern workforce
March 17, 2020
I just returned from attending Modex 2020 which was held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. While the show was visibly affected by some companies deciding not to attend or being prevented from traveling in response to the Coronavirus, the effect was quality over quantity of interactions. At first, it was unusual to see empty booth spaces and fewer people, but the lower attendance made it possible to spend more time with exhibitors to learn about their solutions and also to make stronger connections.

I asked our value added resellers who were exhibiting at the show about their favorite attractions and the overwhelming response was robotics. Our partner, Tecsys, pointed me to Locus Robotics. The company provides a robot worker to operate alongside a human one as you can see from this video. Instead of automating the cart, the robot isn’t dependent on the worker so the robot can work with any worker. A robot helps solve the labor crisis, either because of demand or global changes. Another one of our attending partners, Manhattan Associates, invited RightHand Robotics to exhibit with them in their booth.

The fabric of the workforce is changing in other ways besides robotics as I learned from Scott Schrantz, Director of Distribution, for LCI Industries. The company creates and/or distributes over 50,000 items to manufacturing, retail, distribution, and e-commerce companies as one of the largest American employers of people who are blind and visually impaired. Employees have a strong work ethic, low turnover and absenteeism, and help the company understand areas where they can improve production and productivity. Using pick-to-sound technology, they manufacture and distribute for such brands as Skilcraft, HP, Avery, and Energizer.

LCI wasn’t the only example of companies leveraging the workforce of people with disabilities or special needs. In one session conducted by Tecsys, a case study of a retail pharmacy that hired 30% disabled staff found that this workforce was #1 in productivity among their employees. Other points included

• Providing employment for many who could not find employment easily elsewhere
• The same standards and pay are applied as for the able bodied
• Leading disabled employees improves the management skills of the people managing the workforce.

These two examples truly drove home the Modex 2020 theme of “Powered by Possibilities.”

One of the highlights of my time at this show was the informal panel discussion with Peyton Manning and Archie Manning. Peyton’s advice on leadership was to be a good listener and ease into a leadership role, letting your team determine when they regard you as a leader by your actions. He shared some funny stories about his life in the NFL, the importance of being continuously coached, and being as prepared as possible every time he set foot on the field. His dad talked about raising sons who had to overcome injury and the growing pains of not being the best athletes when they were beginning their athletic careers. Humility and humor seem to fuel this family.

While there may have been fewer people attending Modex 2020, the lessons I learned center around creating stronger ties to each other while simultaneously keeping a physical distance, the benefits of supporting an often overlooked pool of talent, and that the fundamentals of leadership remain the same across industries – listen and model behavior people can trust. All the while, the sound of robots whirring through the empty spaces made the experience surreal and inspiring at the same time.

Julie James
Channel Sales Manager ~ ConnectShip
Julie James is a ConnectShip Channel Sales Manager and contributor to Blogistics. She manages the valuable relationships with the ConnectShip Value Added Resellers, and promotes the on-premise and off-premise technology product lines to potential and existing customers. She resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and volunteers for American Corporate Partners, providing mentorship to service people transitioning from the military to a corporate culture.