Two years after the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to quickly shift to a work-from-home-office model, many workers are still working from home at least part-time.
The Future Forum Pulse, a global study from Future Forum, showed that 76% of employees do not want to return to full-time office work after spending a year or more working from home, and 93% want flexibility when they work.
And, even as some companies begin to call workers back into offices, it seems that working from home is, in part, here to stay.
According to an Owl labs study, 16% of companies are fully remote globally. This same study found that about 62% of workers aged 22 to 65 claim to work remotely at least occasionally.
This means that there will continue to be some shipping tasks that will be done off-site, and having the right cloud-based multi-carrier parcel management system with a work-from-home-office capability will remain essential in keeping final-mile costs in check.
Today, many employees are working from home. They securely log into enterprise systems and do their work without any loss of business continuity. But what about physical business correspondence that has traditionally been managed by corporate mailrooms and shipping departments? There are still documents and contracts to review, samples to send, equipment to repair, and personal shipments to process. Leaving employees to improvise their shipping processes can lead to loss of cost control, inefficiencies, and unsafe visits to local shipping centers.
That’s why more businesses are providing their employees with remote access to multi-carrier management solutions (MCMS) as an essential part of their enterprise system portfolio. These solutions provide a fully automated one-stop shipping solution for UPS, FedEx, USPS, DHL, and other local carriers, all from a home office environment.
Centralized control of remote shipping processes across the enterprise
Carrier-provided shipping websites and multi-carrier “point” shipping solutions are nothing new. What is new are enterprise-class MCMS platforms capable of supporting thousands of home office shipping locations.
When conditions require employees to work from home, businesses lose an essential process control point, such as a centralized mailroom. But enterprise MCMS platforms provide a digitally centralized control point by recording all home office worker shipments, including content detail and subsequent tracking events.
All shipping transactions are captured in a cloud data repository, ensuring accurate expense accounting and reconciliation of carrier invoices. Dashboards and reports provide managers with enterprise-wide visibility over all corporate carrier spend, including home office shipping activity. Drill downs and filters provide further detail about carrier charges, including special service fees. So even though shipping is decentralized in home offices, information management remains centralized.
As an enterprise SaaS solution, IT administrators can quickly configure and roll out MCMS to thousands of home office locations. There is nothing to install. Employees log into MCMS apps using a standard browser. A corporate single sign-on (SSO) process validates the employee’s identity, and from there, the home office shipping solution walks users through shipment preparation processes.
Reduced support with convenient and simple home office shipping
Most employees are untrained in the complexities of transportation and logistics, which to the uninitiated seem deceptively simple. In the absence of a standardized corporate shipping solution, they will waste valuable time manually entering data into single-carrier websites and make cost-ineffective carrier service selections. Many will call into corporate IT for support, wait on hold for carrier website support, or interrupt other employees for help.
An enterprise MCMS, with functionality designed for home office use, simplifies workflows and greatly reduces the need for internal or external support. Corporate or personal address books automate ship-from and ship-to entries, and rate shopping business rules automatically select the best carrier service among a wide variety of global, national, regional, or local carrier services. Carrier compliant labels are printed on 8.5” x 11” paper stock, along with applicable customs forms for international shipments.
An enterprise MCMS may also provide employees with a way to ship their own personal items without having to leave their home office. Rather than use the corporate carrier account to process personal shipments and potentially complicate expense reimbursements, MCMS apps provide employees with the option of using their own credit cards to pay for personal shipments at discounted carrier rates. This is more crucial now as employees are ordering goods online and have a need to process returns from their homes. An MCMS personal shipping capability keeps employees productive and safe while ensuring a more disciplined use of corporate carrier services.
Safe 'no-contact' shipping
Every business has an obligation to keep its employees safe. Current World Health Organization guidelines emphasize the importance of social distancing as a hedge against the spread of pandemic infection. This imperative is undermined if an employee has to take time out of their working day to stand in line at their local post office or carrier shipping center.
MCMS apps enable employees to process shipments from the comfort and safety of their own homes. They print a carrier compliance label, affix it to the carton or envelope, and use the app to request a carrier pick up service from their doorstep. Or they can deposit their shipment in a locker or carrier drop-off box. This removes the need to come into close contact with carrier service personnel.
Businesses work hard to implement cost-effective and efficient process controls. Now more than ever, companies are reviewing their Business Continuity Plans to ensure their employees are able to work safely from home for extended periods of time. Implementing an MCMS ship from home office solution is an essential part of the enterprise portfolio.
For more information on implementing a ship from home office program, click here.