Cross training in operations has been a part of good manufacturing practice for some time. It’s advantages are well known. From the obvious coverage during absences and managing excessive work flow/bottlenecks, to bringing fresh perspectives to the “always done it that way” syndrome and raising awareness of what goes on in other departments.
The advantages speak for themselves, which begs the question why stop there? Indirect staff can benefit just the same, people, not normally working in production, doing so. While not an everyday practice, everyone in the company spending some time on the floor performing standard functions is a win-win. Appreciation for “the other side of the fence” works here as well. Learning that it is not just getting the product out, but meeting time standards, recognizing processing issues as the happen, and attention to detail that is required day in and day out.
Customer Service, production planners, marketing staff, inventory control, accounting, PERSONNEL, can all learn what is necessary to keep themselves employed and how their responsibilities feed into the system.
As part of your employee orientation as well as periodic cross training, I highly suggest including indirects and front office. Additional skills and increased perspective are never a bad thing to have.