Everyone had high hopes and exciting plans for 2020. But come March, those plans (and hopes) were quickly dashed and put on hold.

Staring into the abyss of the unknown and nationwide lockdown, many feared for their lives and livelihoods, as they struggle to comprehend the scale of what we were all facing.

EC EMS Trends 2021

However, looking back, those businesses that were well prepared and took immediate, decisive action have fared surprisingly well. And now, during the second lockdown, things feel altogether much calmer than back in March.

Throughout this upheaval, we have seen several trends emerge — some of which are likely to continue into 2021…

 

Mastering remote working 

The concept of remote working is nothing new. Nor is ‘work-life balance’, which has become somewhat of a buzzword over recent years. However, 2020 was probably the first time any of us began to experience true work-life balance.

This year has clearly demonstrated that working from home does actually, well, work — in the electronics industry as well as many other sectors. As such, employers have become more mindful about giving staff the tools they need to succeed whilst allowing them to ‘switch off’. Next year will be all about refining and continuing to invest in this new way of working.

Going forward, the challenge will be ensuring companies maintain a single entity, particularly in an industry like electronics where some can work remotely, but others cannot. Everybody — whether they are at home or in the factory — should feel part of the business.

 

Automating processes

The technology revolution has also accelerated this year. Already, it has played a significant role in connecting all areas of business. In 2021, it will become even more crucial to maintain strong integration and communications — with team members as well as suppliers and customers.

The past year has raised a lot of questions about risk management, which will feature highly on OEMs’ agendas next year. Customers are likely to start asking a lot more questions about how companies are managing risk as part of their selection criteria. As such, electronics manufacturers will need to reconsider where they invest their capital expenditure, looking at automation technologies to help audit, manage and mitigate risks.

 

Diversifying supply chains and offerings

Another key thing we have seen in 2020 is the importance of diversifying supply chains and service offerings. Those companies that had limited their supply chains to one region will have struggled this year in the face of lockdowns and travel restrictions. However, those with a diverse supply chain could be more flexible — meaning they were able to shift operations easily to another location.

Equally, companies with experience across a broad range of industries will have remained strong. On the other hand, those that only operate in a niche market may have suffered if demand suddenly dropped.

Again, the focus for 2021 will be keeping options open and mitigating risks to ensure businesses are well placed to handle and adapt to external influences.

 

Finding new opportunities in Brexit 

Of course, we cannot look to 2021 without touching on Brexit. At the beginning of 2020, Brexit was all anyone could talk about. Then the pandemic hit and, suddenly, Brexit fell right to the bottom of the priorities pile.

However, whichever camp you are in, one thing is certain: Brexit is happening. The transition period ends on the 31st of December, so businesses will need to make the most out of the situation and adapt. Things change — that is the way of the world. And those who can exploit these changes and capitalise on them will flourish going forward.

We can undoubtedly expect to see manufacturers using the first quarter of 2021 to look for and explore new opportunities in various areas — and that is a very exciting prospect.

 

What do you think we can expect to see more of in 2021? Follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter to stay up to date with the latest electronics manufacturing news and insights.