One of the hallmarks of the pandemic was that many companies — regardless of industry — shifted at least some of their operations to remote work, as a means of avoiding health risks. Of course, this created a number of other problems for businesses, including the need to coordinate with teams spread across multiple cities and towns, or in some cases, even different time zones.

In procurement, in particular, this kind of work spread over multiple sites can be a difficult issue to overcome. But even as things return to "normal," your company has likely loosened its policies around remote work and will allow teams to continue working from home (or elsewhere) as long as it makes sense. If that's the case, you need to ensure your organization can run smoothly despite the distance, and the following tips should help:

1) Make all pertinent data and tech easily available

First and foremost, your team needs all the tools and access they would normally have at their disposal in the office when they work from home, according to Global Trade Magazine. That means the right software, permissions to access files stored in the cloud, and hardware that allows them to more effectively stay connected to other members of the team. If they're forced to make do with a patchwork of non-standard solutions, their performance — and therefore your entire procurement efforts — may suffer.

Remote work is easier with a little support.Remote work is easier with a little support.

2) Set expectations

There are lots of reasons why companies and employees alike should favor at least a partial work-from-home schedule, but that does not mean your team should not abide by a number of rules that set everyone up for success and ensure a level playing field, Global Trade Magazine added. When everyone is operating from the same basic expectations, it becomes easier to work together as a team no matter where you're all located.

3) Check in regularly

Even when you are clear about what you expect of your procurement team members and give them everything they need to get the job done, you should still strive to always provide resources, help and an understanding ear in case they encounter any issues, according to Business 2 Community. In addition, it's important to have regular video calls — ideally more than once a week — just to check in, give everyone a little "face time," and make sure they remain on the same page.

4) Communicate about future changes and plans

Finally, as with concerns around COVID itself, you shouldn't expect your work-from-home policies to remain the same in perpetuity, according to management expert Dede Henley, writing for Forbes. As such, if your plans or needs as a business (or just within the procurement team) change, you should give your workers plenty of runway to adjust, find alternative accommodations or otherwise ensure they can continue to contribute with greater confidence that they are being considered and included in decision-making processes.

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