The novel coronavirus pandemic changed many aspects of American life, when it comes to both work and personal time, but some of the changes that accompanied it seem like they may be here to stay. One of the biggest, regardless of industry, is people got a taste for working from home — and it made them more productive. And despite what many within this specific industry might expect, procurement pros are likewise intending to keep up their remote-work habits for some time to come.
Indeed, more than half of procurement professionals say they will continue to work remotely on at least a part-time basis, with almost 1 in 3 saying they would do this for the majority of any given week, according to the recent Public Procurement Priorities and Strategies for 2021 from Bonfire Interactive. And for the most part, this seems like something most within the industry are comfortable accommodating.
The three most commonly cited priorities for procurement organizations in the year ahead are cutting costs, improving processes and getting a better handle on evaluating their digital transformations, the survey showed. The latter will, of course, be highly important to companies that keep allowing part- or even full-time remote work.
"Many procurement teams are utilizing FEMA reimbursements or federal stimulus like CARES and ARP to help modernize processes, bring them online and become more efficient," said Omar Salaymeh, Bonfire CEO. "It's imperative that they continue to innovate and embrace digital solutions that meet these priorities in the months and years ahead."
Getting it right
With the above in mind, experts agree that it's time for organizations to start laying the groundwork for processes around sharing data and training, because procurement departments can be an intricate ecosystem in which everyone has to be on the same page, according to American City & County. If your organization does not have a solid plan in place on this front, but plans to keep allowing remote work for the foreseeable future (or even permanently), it's likely that things will be lost in translation as time goes on and more workers are onboarded. That, in turn, disrupts business continuity and can knock your organization off course.
The good news is many organizations, both public and private, seem to recognize the opportunity before them and are strategically investing to ensure they can keep up with the demands of modern and future work, a recent Focus NJ/Brother International survey showed. In the Garden State, businesses have invested an average of $34,000 in their tech infrastructures to ensure they can keep up productivity even in the face of highly disruptive events such as a massive public health crisis. Perhaps this is why nearly two-thirds of respondents say they are at least considering allowing the continuation of remote work even after the pandemic has finally ended.
Certainly, any changes your organization can make to potentially improve productivity and flexibility in a post-COVID world are at least worth exploring, and that may begin by looking at your bottom line and talking to your employees about the things they value in work.