As employees, vendors and partners work remotely with less face-to-face contact, businesses have had to find alternative ways to interact. Research has found that enterprises are shipping and sending more: 50% of enterprises have increased their sending over the past few months, according to a Pitney Bowes poll*. Small businesses too, are turning to traditional communications methods. Research from Morning Consult found a quarter of U.S. and UK small businesses used mail and parcel shipping to connect with their employees between March and August 2020, while the figure rose to 61% of small businesses in China.
72% of office workers want to continue working remotely
Organizations sending high volumes of mail or parcels are finding it costly and complex to maintain business continuity and deliver a great customer experience, with large numbers of employees working from home. The popularity of remote working has been accelerating for a while, but it has been intensified by the pandemic. One PwC study found that even after the threat of the pandemic has receded, 72% of office workers would like to work remotely at least two days a week. This leaves businesses reassessing where, and how, their remote workforce performs critical business functions.
One in three businesses say mailing and shipping from home is a major challenge
We polled 250 enterprises with 500 or more employees across the retail, government, healthcare and fulfilment industries to understand the new challenges they face as employees continue to work remotely. More than one in three businesses on average—rising to almost one in every two government agencies polled—was particularly challenged by the ability to allow employees to ship from remote locations, while 30% were challenged by the ability to produce and send critical customer communications and documents like bills, notices and certified mail, and 29% were equally challenged by tracking outgoing packages across multiple locations and home offices and reducing postage costs and comparing rates across carriers.
Balancing these challenges with the ability to deliver a memorable customer experience, while focusing on other business priorities—protecting the health and safety of staff and clients, fulfilling orders and driving down costs—continues to place huge stress on businesses already under pressure to adapt.
Smart investments in technology, software and analytics are driving change
To address these challenges, manage expenses, and maintain accountability and control, businesses are investing in mailing and shipping technology, software and analytics, which can be deployed across multiple locations. These tools drive transparency, provide value and make it simple to select the most cost-effective service from a range of different carriers—even when working remotely. Of the organizations we polled, 65% plan to invest in mailing and shipping software solutions that can be deployed across locations.
There are three specific reasons why these technologies are highly relevant for organizations with remote workers:
1—They’re cloud-based: It’s likely you’ve been enjoying the benefit of cloud-based applications for a long time, possibly without realizing it: Google Cloud, Salesforce and Microsoft Office 365, for example. Then there’s Spotify, Netflix and Waze, among many, many others you’re familiar with. There are two main reasons cloud-based technologies are a great fit for the current climate: they are accessible from almost any location so they’re perfect for remote workers and they’re scalable—many require a subscription so your business can scale up or down accordingly. Cloud-based sending technologies have the same advantages. During the pandemic, when many businesses have employees working from home, cloud-based sending software helps them keep track of what they are sending, how often, how much it costs and which carrier they chose. Bringing this altogether on a single platform helps concerned businesses regain control and management of mail and shipping spend.
2—They’re compact and modular: Earlier in the year when offices closed, no one knew for how long they’d be shut. Many companies and their workers had a sufficient set-up at home—laptop, keyboard, monitor—but for businesses with high volumes of mailing and shipping, it quickly became clear that the technologies they required for business continuity remained in the workplace. Organizations are resolving this by investing in the next generation of sending technologies. Compact, mobile and wi-fi connected, these devices work just as well remotely as in a traditional workplace, and they’re small enough to move back when the workplace reopens.
3—They deliver in-depth analytics for absolute visibility: Businesses are increasingly reliant on analytics to measure performance, understand patterns and trends, to drive informed decision making and generate accurate forecasting. Our recent poll reveals the growing interest in analytics specifically to understand shipping and mailing: 62% of the organizations we polled plan to invest in analytical reporting tools within the next 10-12 months to optimize postage spend and efficiency. For the retail industry, under huge pressure to adapt, this rises to 70%.
Tools that provide detailed analytics give enterprises visibility, accountability and cost control. Insight derived from key performance metrics, information on spend and real-time reporting functionality provides transparency that businesses crave at this point in time, with many employees still working remotely.
With more businesses requiring employees to work from home during increasingly uncertain times, any steps they can take to maintain business continuity and visibility of costs are invaluable. Cloud-based, compact technologies along with detailed analytical dashboards provide transparency, certainty and reassurance.
*Pitney Bowes Market intelligence USA Enterprise Quick Pulse Survey Summer 2020
Shemin Nurmohamed is the senior vice president, Global Product Management at Pitney Bowes