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Print buyers need company support to work productively from home

As the coronavirus eases in many regions, businesses are ramping up their operations. 

For many employees, that won’t mean heading back to the office—it will mean continuing to work from home, albeit on a more formal schedule. A New York Times magazine article and other reports suggest that a significant number—15% to as many as 50%—of employees will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future and perhaps permanently.

Those continuing to work at home may include sales reps, marketing/creative staff, and print buyers and brokers.

For businesses, it’s about saving money through improved productivity. However, sustainable long-term productivity gains will require redefining what it means for companies to provide “employee support.” 

The type of support that home-based employees need from their companies to get the job done differs from the support that office workers need—and may require an initial dollar investment, as legacy systems may not be up to the task.

As some companies have learned during the three-month lockdown, employees working at home need:

  • Robust systems and software.
  • Round-the-clock technical support: This includes help with software installation and home equipment setup, training, ongoing equipment and system maintenance for at-home employees, and on-call tech support. This may require larger technical support staff to avoid burnout.
  • Reliable, efficient methods of electronic communication among management, employees, vendors, and clients.
  • A fast home internet connection and a better computer, monitors, headset, camera, lighting, desk setup, etc.

Specifically, systems and software must cloud-based, secure, and reliable, while providing various levels of access, ease of communication, transparency, customized reports, and compliance.

If employees in your company typically use process and system workarounds, these are going to even more ineffective for home-based employees, which may negate any productivity gains realized from working at home. For instance, print buyers often use their own spreadsheet and email setups to manage print projects because general procurement systems aren’t suited to handling the complexities of print.

Before committing to a home-based workforce for the long term, it would be wise to review current systems for inefficiencies and consider investing in software specifically designed for print. Also, software-and-service providers who customize their systems to your workflow, and who do the setup, employee training, and on-call support, can be a major asset to a work-from-home force. 

Working from home is likely to be the new normal for many companies and employees for some time to come. Companies that get it right by providing the level of support these employees need will see the biggest payoff.

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