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The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted how much of the professional world works, with many organizations finding ways for employees to do their job from home. While not all positions lend themselves to remote work, the crisis is revealing that even something like building a jet engine and other types of aerospace engineering can be done in sweatpants from a home office. How?
Well, the majority of aerospace engineering, whether it's creating an innovative propulsion system or devising new avionics components, is design work that takes place in front of a monitor using computer-aided design software (CAD) like SOLIDWORKS. Simulation testing and data analysis is also a big part of the job, all of which can be done from a home workstation sans the commute.
Collaborating and problem-solving with team members is essential to successfully and safely putting big things in the air, and videoconferencing tools like Slack and Zoom allow coworkers to put their heads together without having to be together. Then there’s the part of the business that involves sourcing materials and making agreements with vendors which is already done over the phone and email.
The truth is, apart from physical assembly, a good portion of aerospace work happens behind a desk. This fact allowed most employees at NASA to begin teleworking in mid-March to help stem the pandemic, and still successfully launch astronauts to the ISS three weeks later. And over at sister research facility JPL, the team operating the Mars Curiosity Rover reports that they remotely work with scientists, researchers, and engineers at institutions and organizations around the world anyway, so doing so from a home work station really isn't nothing new.
Having the flexibility of being able to work from home has been high on the list of requirements for millennials long before the coronavirus crisis began. A 2013 PwC survey found that 64% of millennials wanted to occasionally work from home, and 66% desired the ability to shift their work hours. Several aerospace and aviation companies seeking to acquire the best talent have made accommodations over the years, creating a telecommuting culture where employees can work from home and then come to the site when necessary. Having this infrastructure already in place has made the transition to a large scale remote workforce all the more easier. Thanks millennials.
Glassdoor reports that job listings have plummeted some 20% in the wake of the pandemic, but hiring for remote work is up 8.7% from last year. The coronavirus pandemic is driving companies from all industries, including aerospace, to expand remote positions and flexible work options. And aerospace employers that might’ve been hesitant to adopt remote friendly policies in the past are not only discovering that operations can remain competitive and productive off-site, but that removing the limits of geography opens up the talent pool to the entire country and possibly even the world.